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Environmental &

Vol. 25 ▪ No. 3 (DOI: 10.13140/2.1.1134.0161) ISSN 1083–9194 www.arch.ksu.edu/seamon/EAP.html Fall ▪ 2014

1990–2014: Special 25th-anniversary issue!

his EAP celebrates 25 years of publication. already available in an open-source digital version.
In early spring, EAP editor David Seamon With the elimination of paper copies, we will no
sent out invitations to contribute an essay longer send out a subscription request in fall issues.
for a special fall issue. In response, Seamon In lieu of subscriptions, we ask that readers make a
received the 19 entries that follow. To accommodate donation for whatever amount they feel EAP is worth
this issue’s length as a paper copy, we have used a (see back page), since we still have production ex-
triple-column, ten-point format. The digital version penses.
remains in the usual two-column, 12-point format. We thank those readers who have supported
In his introduction to this anniversary issue, Sea- EAP over the last 25 years. At its peak, in the late
mon reproduces the list of potential questions that he 1990s, our subscription list reached 150. Since open
suggested contributors might address (see p. 4). access, however, our paid readership has plummeted;
Though few of the entries answer these questions di- in 2014, we received subscriptions from only 41 in-
rectly, one notes that they underlie many of the au- dividuals and ten academic libraries. Though this
thors’ concerns and serve as pointers toward im- loss in subscribership is discouraging, there is an en-
portant matters that may mark the future of environ- couraging side too. Since it became open source,
mental and architectural phenomenology. EAP has been seen by many more readers than paper
One of these matters is the impact of digital in- copies could generate. For example, (cont. on p. 2)
formation, hyperspace, and virtual reality on real-
world places, life, and events. This concern affects Below: Booleroo Backyard–Panel 3, 60 x 213cm, 2014. This
EAP immediately, since this will be the last paper painting by artist Sue Michael pictures a backyard in Booleroo
Centre, a small Australian town north of Adelaide. Note how
issue—production and especially postage costs have outside and inside interconnect, a lifeworld feature Michael
become too much to bear. As readers know, EAP is discusses in her essay, p. 11. For panels 1 & 2, see back page.
Cont. from p. 1
the fall 2014 issue has been viewed more
than 1,100 times on the academia.edu web-
More Donors, 2014 Habits and Habituality
We thank the following readers who, since Philosophers Matt Bower and Emanuele
site. We are told by the Kansas State Uni-
the spring 2014 issue, have contributed Carminada have edited a special 2014 is-
versity webmaster in charge of K-Rex (the
more than the base subscription for 2014: sue of Phenomenology and Mind, which
digital library holding the EAP archive)
Andrew Cohill, Janet Donohoe, Ben focuses on “Mind, Habits, and Social Re-
that “hits” to the EAP collection are regu-
Jacks, and Harvey Sherman. ality.” The 14 articles examine “habit, es-
larly in the top ten percent of most down-
pecially its personal and interpersonal as-
loaded entries. Phenomenological insights
pects.” Contributors include: Dermot Mo-
may be gaining traction in a way unimagi- Items of Interest ran (“The Ego as Substrate of Habituali-
nable via paper distribution alone! The 18th annual meeting of the Interna- ties: Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology of
As some readers remember, EAP was tional Association for Environmental the Habitual Self”); Maxine Sheets-John-
originally envisioned by philosopher Rob- Philosophy (IAEP) will be held October son (“On the Origin, Nature, and Genesis
ert Mugerauer (see his essay, p. 7), inte- 25–27, 2014, in New Orleans. The confer- of Habit”); and Nick Crossley (“The Con-
rior-design educator Margaret Boschetti, ence follows the annual meetings of the cept of Habit and the Regularities of Social
and environment-behavior researcher Da- Society for Existential and Phenomeno- Structure”). The issue ends with a bibliog-
vid Seamon at a breakfast meeting at the logical Philosophy (SPEP); and the Soci- raphy of work relating to habituality. This
1989 Environmental Design Research As- ety for Phenomenology and the Human open-access journal is available at:
sociation (EDRA) conference. Boschetti Sciences (SPHS). http://environmentalphiloso- http://www.phenomenologyandmind.eu/. See the
and Seamon took on the task of co-editing phy.org/; www.spep.org/; http://sphs.info/.
first sidebar, p. 3, for a portion of Moran’s
EAP until 2002, when Boschetti retired and
Seamon became editor. Boshetti was una- The 45th annual meeting of the Urban Af-
ble to contribute an essay to mark EAP’s fairs Association (UAA) will be held in
anniversary, but she did send a congratula- Miami, Florida, April 8–11, 2015. The Max van Manen’s New Book
tory note. She wrote: theme of the conference is “The Dynamics
of Place Making in the Global City.” The Max van Manen, 2014. Phenomenol-
David, UAA is dedicated to creating interdiscipli- ogy of Practice: Meaning-Giving
Congratulations on the 25th anniversary nary spaces for engaging in intellectual and Methods in Phenomenological Re-
of EAP. Hard to believe it has been 25 practical discussions about urban life. search and Writing. Walnut Creek,
years since you launched this idea and http://urbanaffairsassociation.org/. California: Left Coast Press.
asked me to be involved. It is truly a tribute
to your commitment to encourage the ex- The conference, Philosophy of The City Throughout his academic career, educator
pansion of interest and knowledge in envi- II, will be held December 4–5, 2014 in Max van Manen has been one of the most
ronmental phenomenology that this mile- Mexico City. Key questions include: What accessible commentators on phenomeno-
stone has been reached. Not only has the do philosophers have to say about urban logical method. His Researching Human
publication of EAP supported scholars, life? Is there a need for a new philosophy Experience (1990) is one of the most fre-
both established and new, to explore and of the city? This conference builds on an quently recommended introductions for
expand their research in this field. It also earlier conference held in Brooklyn, New newcomers to phenomenological and her-
has introduced voices from neighboring York, in 2013. Contact: shane.epting@unt.edu. meneutic research. No doubt, Phenome-
disciplines into the on-going dialog, nology of Practice will come to hold an
thereby enriching the total milieu. The Journal of Aesthetics and Phenome- equal place because it is a masterly account
I clearly recall how important it was to my nology supports research in aesthetics that of the nature of phenomenology and the
career when I met you at a conference and draws inspiration from the phenomenolog- lived experience of doing phenomenologi-
discovered a group of like-minded re- ical tradition. The journal provides a plat- cal research.
searchers. Phenomenology not only pro- form for innovative ideas that cross philo- The book includes thoughtful, lucid
vided a way to investigate questions of in- sophical traditions and traditionally ac- discussion of three key aspects of the phe-
terest to me. It gave me a home in the aca- cepted fields of research in aesthetics. nomenological process: first, the phenom-
demic community so I could continue to www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bloomsbury/jap. enological epoché; second, the phenome-
grow and move forward professionally. In nological reduction; and third, phenome-
that respect, I am like so many others ARID: A Journal of Desert Art, Design nological writing. Van Manen explains:
whom you supported via EAP. Best wishes and Ecology is a peer-reviewed annual “…the hope is that for the reader this will
going forward as you continue to support publication focusing on explorations of de- be a phenomenology of phenomenology:
young scholars and mature minds with sert arts, design, culture and the environ- phenomenological reflections on varieties
EAP. ment for both scholarly and new audiences. and versions of phenomenological inquiry
Fond regards, ARID seeks submissions related to desert and method: the moding and methoding of
Margaret Boschetti regions of the American Southwest and be- meaning as we live it prereflectively and
Hot Springs, Arkansas yond. editors@aridjournal.org. reflectively” (p. 25). See the sidebar, p. 3.

“Life lived ‘with blinders on’…” a habitual character, a particular style Epoché and Reduction
Central to Husserl’s analyses [of habit] of being lived through, and as a result How can phenomenology gain access to
is his understanding of habitual life in they can be sedimented into layers that the prereflective experiences as they oc-
the familiar world. This is always a life encrust the psyche and form the “abid- cur in the taken-for-granted spheres of
where meanings are encountered or ing style of the ego” (from Dermot our everyday lifeworld? Normally we
lived through as “always already there” Moran, “The Ego as Substrate of Ha- rarely reflect on the lived sensibilities of
or “pre-given.” The everyday world of bitualities,” pp. 28–29; see “Habits and our experiences, since we already expe-
experience has a deep degree of stabil- Habituality,” preceding page). rience the meanings immanent in our
ity, commonality, normality, familiar- everyday practices through our bodies,
ity, and even comfort. It is the common language, habits, things, social interac-
context and horizon for our collective van Manen on Phenomenology tions, and physical environments.
concerns…. Precisely because every- and Wonder Phenomenology is the method to
day life has a pre-given, taken-for- Phenomenological method is driven by break through this taken-for-granted-
granted character, it is invisible in the a pathos: being swept up in a spell of ness and to get to the meaning structures
analyses of the positive sciences. The wonder about phenomena as they ap- of our experiences. This basic method is
operations of this hidden intentionality pear, show, present, or give themselves called the reduction. The reduction con-
need to be made visible, and Husserl to us. In the encounter with the things sists of two methodical opposing moves
gradually realized this required a major and events of the world, phenomenol- that complement each other. Negatively
suspension of our naïve worldly-com- ogy directs its gaze toward the regions it suspends or removes what obstructs
mitment, or belief-in-being. where meanings and understandings access to the phenomenon—this move
For Husserl, everyday life is natu- originate, well up, and percolate is called the epoché or bracketing. And
ral life, life in the natural attitude. This through the porous membranes of past positively it returns, leads back to the
is a life lived in obscurity, the unex- sedimentations—then infuse, permeate, mode of appearing of the phenome-
amined life, life lived according to eve- infect, touch, stir us, and exercise a non—this move is called the reduc-
ryday habituality, life lived “with blin- formative and affective effect on our be- tion…. (p. 215).
ders on” as Husserl often says. ing…. To say it more pointedly:
Husserl’s phenomenology of ha- The epoché describes the ways that we
bitual life discovers habit as present at need to open ourselves to the world as
all levels of human behavior from the  Phenomenological research begins we experience it and free ourselves
lower unconscious instincts and drives with wonder at what gives itself from presuppositions The reduction is
(that have their own peculiar individu- and how something gives itself. It generally the methodological term that
ality or idiosyncrasy) to bodily motility can only be pursued while surren- describes the phenomenological ges-
right up to the level of autonomous ra- dering to a state of wonder. ture that permits us to rediscover what
tional life in culture. Thus he speaks  A phenomenological question ex- Merleau-Ponty (1962) calls “the spon-
not just of bodily habits or traits of plores what is given in moments of taneous surge of the lifeworld” and the
character but of peculiar and abiding prereflective, prepredicative expe- way that the phenomena give and show
“habits of thought.” These habits of rience—experiences as we live themselves in their uniqueness. The
thought include scientific habits of through them. aim of the reduction is to re-achieve a
thinking accepted without question and  Phenomenology aims to grasp the direct and primitive contact with the
that it is the function of the transcen- exclusively singular aspects (iden- world as we experience it or as it
dental epoché to disrupt and thereby tity/essence/otherness) of a phe- shows itself—rather than as we con-
expose. nomenon or event. ceptualize it. But we need to realize as
The life of habit… is not just a  The epoché (bracketing) and the re- well that in some sense nothing is
matter of intellectual attitude or con- duction proper are the two most “simply given.” The phenomenological
viction. It can also be a matter of per- critical components of the various attitude is sustained by wonder, atten-
ceptual tendencies, desires, feelings, forms of the reductions—though tiveness, and a desire for meaning….
emotions, even peculiar moods. Hus- the reduction itself is understood [T]he reduction aims at removing any
serl recognizes the complex character quite differently, at times incom- barriers, assumptions, suppositions,
of our “feelings,” as well as our inter- mensurably, and sometimes con- projections, and linguisticalities that
twined emotional and affective tested by various leading philoso- prevent the phenomena and events of
“states,” acts of empathy, sympathy phers and phenomenologists. the lifeworld to appear or show them-
love, fellow feeling, and so on, as well  Phenomenological reduction and selves as they give themselves. So we
as acts of willing (important for our analysis occur primarily in the atti- need to engage in the reduction in or-
ethical lives). In this sense, personal tude of the epoché, the reduction, der to let that which gives itself show
love, for Husserl, is described as a and the vocative… (pp. 26–27). itself (van Manen, p. 220 and p. 221).
“lasting habitus.” All of these can have

Possible Questions for the 25th - Anniversary Issue of EAP (see p. 5)
Questions relating to phenomenology  Do the “sacred” and the “holy” have a spaces and their relationship to mobility
and related interpretive approaches role in caring for the natural world? For and movement?
and methods: places? For lifeworlds broadly?
 What is phenomenology and what does  Can phenomenology contribute to envi- Questions relating to architecture and
it offer to whom? ronmental education? If so, in what environmental design and policy:
 What is the state of phenomenological ways?  Can there be a phenomenology of archi-
research today? What are your hopes  Can there be a phenomenology of the tecture and architectural experience and
and concerns regarding phenomenol- two laws of thermodynamics, especially meaning?
ogy? the second law claiming that all activi-  Can phenomenology contribute to bet-
 Does phenomenology continue to have ties, left to their own devices, tend to- ter architectural design?
relevance in examining human experi- ward greater disorder and fewer possi-  How do qualities of the designable
ence in relation to world? bilities? Are there ways whereby phe- world—spatiality, materiality, lived
 Are there various conceptual and meth- nomenological understanding of life- aesthetics, environmental embodiment
odological modes of phenomenology world might help to reduce the acceler- etc.—contribute to lifeworlds?
and, if so, how can they be categorized ating disordering of natural and human  What are the most pertinent environ-
and described? worlds? mental and architectural features con-
 Has phenomenological research been tributing to a lifeworld’s being one way
superseded by other conceptual ap- Questions relating to place, place ex- rather than another?
proaches—e.g., post-structuralism, so- perience, and place meaning:  What role will cyberspace and digital
cial-constructionism, relationalist and  Why has the topic of place become an technologies have in 21st-century life-
non-representational perspectives, the important phenomenological topic? worlds? How will they play a role in
various conceptual “turns,” and so  Can a phenomenological understanding shaping designed environments, partic-
forth? of place contribute to better place mak- ularly architecture?
 Can phenomenology contribute to mak- ing?  What impact will digital advances and
ing a better world? If so, what are the  Can phenomenology contribute to a virtual realities have on physical em-
most crucial phenomena and topics to generative understanding of place and bodiment, architectural design, and
be explored phenomenologically? place making? real-world places? Will virtual reality
 Can phenomenological research offer  What roles do bodily regularity and ha- eventually be able to simulate “real re-
practical results in terms of design, bitual inertia play in the constitution of ality” entirely? If so, how does such a
planning, policy, and advocacy? place and place experience? development transform the nature of
 How might phenomenological insights  What are the lived relationships be- lifeworld, natural attitude, place, and ar-
be broadcast in non-typical academic tween place, sustainability, and a re- chitecture?
ways—e.g., through artistic expression, sponsive environmental ethic?  Can virtual worlds become so “real”
theatrical presentation, digital evoca-  How are phenomenological accounts to that they are lived as “real” worlds?
tion, virtual realities, and so forth? respond to post-structural interpreta-
 What are the most important aims for tions of space and place as rhizomic and Other potential questions:
future phenomenological research? a “meshwork of paths” (Ingold)?  What is the lived relationship between
 Do the various post-structural and so-  Can phenomenological accounts incor- people and the worlds in which they
cial-constructionist criticisms of phe- porate a “progressive sense of place” find themselves?
nomenology—that it is essentialist, argued for by critical theorists like  Can lifeworlds be made to happen self-
masculinist, authoritative, voluntarist, Doreen Massey? consciously? If so, how? Through what
ignorant of power structures, and so  Can phenomenological explications of individual efforts? Through what group
forth—point toward its demise? space and place account for human dif- efforts?
ferences—gender, sexuality, less-  Can a phenomenological education in
Questions relating to the natural abledness, social class, cultural back- lifeworld, place, and environmental em-
world and environmental and ecologi- ground, and so forth? bodiment assist citizens and profession-
cal concerns:  Can phenomenology contribute to the als in better understand the workings
 Can there be a phenomenology of na- politics and ideology of place? and needs of real-world places and
ture and the natural world?  Can a phenomenological understanding thereby contribute to their envisioning
 What can phenomenology offer the in- of lived embodiment and habitual iner- and making?
tensifying environmental and ecological tia be drawn upon to facilitate robust  Is it possible to speak of human-rights-
crises we face today? places and to generate mutual support in-place or place justice? If so, would
 Can phenomenology contribute to more and understanding among places, espe- such a possibility move attention and
sustainable actions and worlds? cially places that are considerably dif- supportive efforts toward improving the
 Can one speak of a sustainable life- ferent (e.g., different ethnic neighbor- places in which people and other living
world? hoods or regions)? beings find themselves, rather than fo-
 What is a phenomenology of a lived en-  Can phenomenology contribute to mo- cusing only on the rights and needs of
vironmental ethic and who are the key bility, the nature of “flows,” rhizomic individuals and groups without consid-
contributors? spaces, the places of mobility, non- eration of their place context?

Human-Immersion-in-World: Twenty-Five Years of EAP
David Seamon, Editor, Environmental and Architectural Phenomenology
with “environmental and architectural phe-

T he last longer-than-usual issue of

EAP was produced for its 20th anni-
versary in 2009. In that issue, I pub-
lished essays by four major figures in envi-
ronmental and architectural phenomenol-
nomenology” to contribute a short essay of
500–2,500 words. I sent out some 60 invita-
tions and eventually received the 19 essays
published here. In my letter of invitation, I
penetrating, multidimensional recognition
that human-being-in-the world always in-
volves aspects of nature, though these au-
thors disagree considerably as to how this
lived immersion is to be understood concep-
ogy—psychologist Bernd Jager, geographer explained that my aim was to “produce a tually or to be encountered experientially.
Edward Relph, and philosophers Karsten special fall issue marking a quarter century The next three essays—by architec-
Harries and Jeff Malpas. In my introduction of phenomenological work relating to envi- tural theorist Lena Hopsch, philosopher
[1], I highlighted three “recurring concerns” ronmental and architectural concerns.” I in- Matthew S. Bower, and educator Paul
that grounded the aims and contents of EAP: cluded a list of possible questions that con- Krafel—shift attention toward real-world
tributors might wish to address (see p. 4). I “applications” of phenomenological princi-
 First, an emphasis on existential phe- emphasized, however, that, “if there are ples and methods—Hopsch, in terms of
nomenology—in other words, the abso- some other relevant questions or themes transit design; Bower, in terms of lived im-
lute necessity of phenomenological more important to you currently, then please plications of virtual realities; and Krafel, in
work grounded in, arising from, and re- focus on those.” terms of a more engaged, animated peda-
turning to concrete experience and the In studying the 19 essays, one notes gogy, including environmental education.
lived reality of lifeworlds; that most contributors did not respond to my The last five essays highlight broader
 Second, an emphasis on researchers’ questions directly but, instead, focused on conceptual issues such as the subjectivity-
openness to the phenomenon and offer- related themes and situations, all of which objectivity dilemma (geographer Yi-Fu
ing it a supportive space in which it pre- are still central to EAP in that they indicate Tuan); the appropriate relationship between
sents itself in a way whereby it is what it important directions that future work in en- phenomenology and analytic, empirical sci-
is most accurately and comprehensively; vironmental and architectural phenomenol- ence (architect Julio Bermudez); phenom-
 Third, an effort to hold theory and prac- ogy might take. Robert Mugerauer’s open- enology as practiced by non-phenomenolo-
tice together, since a central phenome- ing essay is a helpful historical overview of gists (geographer Edward Relph); the rela-
nological assumption is that how and “environmental and architectural phenome- tionship between phenomenological under-
what we understand is how and what we nology,” particularly its disciplinary and standing and practical application (philoso-
make; therefore, finding more accurate professional dimensions and starting points. pher Ingrid Stefanovic); and parallels be-
ways to see, think, and envision should, In pondering the arrangement of the tween real-world and phenomenological
in turn, strengthen design, planning, pol- other 18 essays, I decided to organize them pathways and journeys (phenomenologist
icy, and advocacy. thematically. The first five essays—by psy- Betsy Behnke).
chologist Eva-Maria Simms, artist Sue Mi- It is particularly appropriate that this
These concerns remain central to the chael, and philosophers Jeff Malpas, special EAP issue ends with Behnke’s es-
aims of EAP, and I don’t wish to discuss Bruce Janz, and Dennis Skocz—deal in say, since her invaluable Study Project in
them again here. Rather, in this introduction various ways with the theme of place—why Phenomenology of the Body Newsletter,
to the special 25th-anniversary issue, I, first, it is important phenomenologically; how it published from 1988 to 1994, was one of the
explain how its format came into being; and, might be understood via real-world situa- original inspirations for EAP. In that sense,
second, discuss the one theme that has tions; how human attachment to place might endings often resonate with starting points.
struck me most strongly in editing this spe- be intensified; and how physical, environ-
cial issue—i.e., the question of how we ac-
curately understand, describe, envision,
plan, and design for a central phenomeno-
mental, and human qualities contribute to a
sense of place.
The next five essays—by anthropolo-
I n studying the 19 essays that follow, one
can locate a considerable range of related
themes, but I want to focus on one that lately
logical claim: that human beings are always gist Tim Ingold, ecologist Mark Riegner, has returned again and again to my thinking
already inescapably immersed and en- environmental educator John Cameron, and writing: the difficult business of under-
twined in their worlds that, most of the time, and philosophers Janet Donohoe and standing the complex, multivalent ways in
“just happen” without the intervention of Bryan Bannon—shift focus toward the which we, as human beings, are intertwined,
anything or anyone. lived constitution of nature, the natural en- intermeshed, entrenched and submerged in
vironment, and the natural world. A central the worlds in which we find ourselves.
A s I considered scenarios for a special
anniversary issue, I decided that the
most revealing possibility might be to invite
concern is how, conceptually and practi-
cally, we replace the standard modernist di-
Different phenomenologists have
sought to clarify this “lived immersion” var-
vision between people and world with a iously, with Husserl emphasizing intention-
a good number of individuals associated ality, lifeworld, and natural attitude;

Heidegger, being-in-world and dwelling; the way in which they are gathered together  Pliability: the way that virtual objects
and Merleau-Ponty, lived embodiment, chi- within the place they also constitute” [2]. and experiences can be “entirely sub-
asm, and flesh. In his essay, Relph reminds In considerable contrast, Bannon ar- ject[ed] to… desire and manipulation”
us of yet another important effort to phrase gues that most current phenomenologies of
this lived-immersion-in-world: French his- human-being-in-the-world remain caught
torian Eric Dardel’s perspicacious notion of up in a modernist “subject-object metaphys-  Discontinuity: the way that virtual ob-
geographicality—“the relationships and ex- ics.” He suggests that we must move away jects and experiences need not have any
periences that bind human beings to the from any claims of some essential, always- practical connection or lived relation-
earth, which [Dardel] considered to be fun- present lived structure of people-world. In- ship with the real-world situation in the
damental aspects of human existence.” stead, he emphasizes that we consider “de- midst of which the virtual user is still
Relph quotes Dardel’s striking claim that centering the human” and recognizing how immersed even as he partakes in virtual
geographicality “is not to be looked at but ecological systems are always in continual reality;
is, rather, an insertion of people into the flux. Bannon intimates that the conventional  Brilliance: The way that virtual reality
world….” phenomenological emphasis on order, can intensify an experience’s attractive
Several contributors to this special is- unity, synthesis, generalization, and truth features and reduce or eliminate en-
sue consider how this people-world inter- needs reconsideration via more recent post- tirely its unpleasant, uninteresting, or
lock might be phrased conceptually. Most structuralist, relationalist, and materialist irrelevant dimensions; the “truly bril-
directly concerned with this matter is Mal- perspectives that favor indeterminacy, di- liant reality,” writes Borghman, “would
pas, who speaks of “human being as placed versity, local narratives, particularity, and exclude all unwanted information” [6];
being” and goes so far as to suggest that, be- contingent possibilities.  Disposability: The way that virtual us-
cause human beings are always already em- ers can end the virtual experience at any
placed, phenomenology might consider re-
branding itself as topology, since “every ap-
pearing or presencing is itself a ‘taking
F or me personally, the entry most intri-
guing is Matthew Bower’s discussion of
virtual reality, which he sees as progres-
time and feel no responsibility or obli-
gation to the “events” and “experi-
ences” of the virtual reality they have
place’.” sively “part and parcel of the naïve every- just left; in this sense, virtual reality is
In different ways, Donohoe and Ingold dayness of life” and entering “into relation readily dismissible and disposable.
make a similar point in relation to the con- with all other nodes of our perceptual field,
modifying the nature of the whole.” Underlying these four qualities of vir-
stitution of nature as it is lived. Drawing on tual experience is the more fundamental
Merleau-Ponty, Donohoe views nature “not As some EAP readers no doubt know,
virtual reality (VR) has recently made a phenomenological recognition that “Reality
as a thing but as a ground of experience it- encumbers and confines” [7]. Though vir-
self”—a “world of which we are always al- quantum leap via 22-year-old inventor
Palmer Lucky’s headset device called the tual reality may superficially seem real, it
ready aware.” Ingold argues that, in speak- can readily escape and replace the lived
ing of a phenomenology of the natural Oculus Rift, bought by Facebook in March,
2014, for two billion dollars. This digital messiness of real lifeworlds with much
world, we conceptually presuppose an arti- more convenient, vivid, or fantastical situa-
ficial division—a separating betweenness— machine is the first to generate fully what
VR programmers call presence—a deep, tions that require no stakes or responsibili-
whereby we fail “to notice how both we and ties.
[the beings and things of nature] go along unquestioned sense one is somewhere else,
for example, a simulation of a craggy, rocky On one hand, VR holds remarkable
together in the current of time.” How, he promise in that it could be a huge contribu-
asks, do we really understand and foster a mountainside that seems so real that you re-
ally think you could fall into the deep chasm tor to repairing a good number of the
“togethering” rather than yet another “oth- world’s problems. Who, for example, would
ering”? below [3].
On one hand, Bower’s claims for the need a car if he could simply put on his vir-
An answer to this question is sug- tual headset and “go to” his workplace, gro-
gested by other contributors, though in con- VR future are hopeful in that “we can find a
virtuality that is not set over and against the cery store, or favorite recreation place? Or
trasting ways. For Simms, Michael, and who needs an elaborate house (or vacation,
Cameron, a lived enjoinment with place en- real” but extends reality and enhances virtu-
ally what reality was before VR. On the hobby, or fun night out) when all these “ex-
tails prolonged, care-grounded engagement, periences” and “places” might be less costly
a way of being with the world that Riegner other hand, there is the phenomenological
work of philosopher Albert Borgmann, generated vicariously and virtually?
also points to in his overview of Goethean On the other hand, VR involves poten-
science as a sensitive phenomenology of na- who is less sanguine because of the lived
ways that virtual reality can facilitate expe- tial risks and dangers, including time wast-
ture. Though he would probably not use In- ing, titillation, addiction, and withdrawal
gold’s phrasing, Malpas finds this “togeth- riences that might seem real but could never
fully unfold in real reality [4]. Borgmann from most things real. Why make the efforts
ering” in the intimate, inseparable “gather- that an encumbering, confining real world
ing” of people-in-place. As he has written so identifies four lived qualities that trigger en-
hancements, distortions, or reductions of entails when virtual reality can provide ease,
eloquently elsewhere, place is “constituted pleasure, and enhanced vividness without
through a gathering of elements that are what “experience” often becomes in virtual
themselves mutually defined only through reality:

the downside of demands, exertions, obliga- Understanding this soldering, in its myriad 4. A. Borgmann, Crossing the Postmodern
tions, or consequences? lived aspects, remains a central aim of EAP Divide, Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press,
I highlight virtual reality because, as and environmental and architectural phe- 1992, pp. 87–102; also see A. Borgmann,
Borgmann and Bower’s work indicates, nomenology. Holding on to Reality, Chicago: Univ. of
phenomenological perspectives can offer Chicago Press, 1999.
singular insights as to VR’s possibilities and Notes 5. Borgmann, Crossing, p. 88.
implications. Lifeworld, natural attitude, in- 1. D. Seamon, Twenty Years of EAP, Envi- 6. Ibid. One revealing discussion of these
tentionality, horizon, body-subject, embod- ronmental and Architectural Phenome- four qualities is N. Friesen, Real vs. Vir-
ied emplacement, lived place, and other key nology 20, 3 (fall 2009): 3–5. tual Dissections: Brilliance and Transpar-
phenomenological notions all identify inte- 2. J. Malpas, Heidegger's Topology, Cam- ency or Encumbrance and Disruption?
gral constituents of any human experience, bridge: MIT Press, 2006, p. 29. Environmental and Architectural Phe-
whether real or virtual. Human beings are 3. L. Grossman, Head Trip, Time Magazine, nomenology, 22, 2 (spring 2011): 6–10.
always already soldered in and to their Apr. 7, 2014, pp. 36–41; P. Rubin, Oculus 7. Ibid., p. 96.
worlds, even if the soldering may be virtual. Rift, Wired, June, 2014, pp. 78–95.

It’s about People

Robert Mugerauer

Mugerauer is Professor and Dean Emeritus in the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a
co-founder of EAP and, over the years, has provided invaluable support and inspiration. His current work focuses on applying phe-
nomenology and complexity theory to issues of environmental well-being. He has written Heidegger and Homecoming (University of
Toronto Press, 2008). drbobm@uw.edu. © 2014 Robert Mugerauer.

E AP is celebrating its 25th year of suc-

cessfully accomplishing a central
task: working as a site for phenome-
nologically exploring our lifeworld. In do-
ing so, it has exemplified the core dimen-
form a closed circle of researchers, profes-
sionals, or inquisitive readers. Rather, a bet-
ter image might be genuinely international
networks with many different sorts of link-
ages among members or of orbiting activi-
Mugerauer were attending to architecture.
These thinkers, however, were not con-
nected at first. For example, I was happy but
embarrassed to learn at a 1983 Society for
Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
sions of both the phenomena and the ap- ties intersecting here and there. That is to conference in St. Louis that Harries, beyond
proach: focusing on our lives together in our say, EAP is all about people with a certain his general work in aesthetics, had devel-
environmental and architectural realms and attitude or style as much as it is about the oped a sub-specialty of Rococo churches.
on the ways we come to understanding as environmental and architectural subject So off went the venture into uncharted
part of a social, communal project. EAP has matter. David Seamon and Margaret territory. Not surprisingly—though pleas-
insightfully shown us what is given but too Boschetti deserve full credit for helping so antly surprising to us in each instance—we
often overlooked because we are caught up many of us along the journey. did not “discover” other people, since they
in the midst of what we are doing. Lifeworld were already there doing good work. But we
meanings, in other words, are normally ex-
perienced implicitly and not unfolded ex-
T hink of how the story of the last 25
years is a gathering and scattering of
participants who do not form anything like
did discover what they were doing and ways
to connect more and more of us. The basic
move was to find venues for getting to-
As a result of attending to EAP’s a movement but, rather, facilitate a series of gether, the master of which was Seamon, al-
gift—evoking meanings and values that en- movable rendezvous. Indeed, part of the ready performing the role he still does, for-
rich our lives—many of us, whether specif- richness of what has happened is that many malized in EAP.
ically working phenomenologically or with particular “tribes” actually have little con-
related qualitative strategies, have found
ourselves called to participate in dialogue
and to respond with research, design, and
tact with each other, or have in common a
few individuals who are related with what
are known as weak rather than strong ties.
T he main problem was finding parent or-
ganizations whose conferences were
not so overly positivistic as to exclude other
education. In the beginning, there were “human- approaches. Most of these venues were dis-
What strikes me most in looking back istic” geographers attending to place: Yi-Fu ciplinary, but an increasing number of
over past EAP issues is the atmosphere of Tuan, Anne Buttimer, Ted Relph, and a multi-disciplinary, environmentally or ar-
openness and freedom that prevails in the young David Seamon. A few theorists and chitecturally focused organizations also ap-
course of presenting fresh insights and sub- philosophers such as Christian Norberg- peared. There were sessions for several
stantive content. The project never was to Schulz, Karsten Harries, and a young Bob

years at the American Association of Geog- the Built Form and Culture conferences in crossed paths. There are many individuals
raphers (AAG), especially in the 1980s. the 1980s and the International Association and clusters with distinct trajectories, aware
There was also teasing open a time and for the Study of Traditional Environments of each other but not focally working to-
place as part of the Society for Phenomenol- (IASTE) from 1990 to the present. gether. To note just a few, and here neces-
ogy and the Human Sciences (SPHS) meet- Philosophers independently carried sarily leave many others out (the remedy for
ings, beginning in the early 1980s and still on, in large part because of the growing in- which is the terrific now-digital EAP ar-
continuing, as well as the hospitable Inter- terest in environmental issues and regular chive!) I still have not met face to face with
national Human Science Research Confer- presentations at the philosophical “mother Jeff Malpas, Michael Jackson, or James
ence (IHSRC). ship” of SPEP in the late 1980s and early Weiner, have only intersected once with Da-
Somewhat more problematic (because 1990s. In the early 2000s, another sub-set oflibor Vesely, though with Juhani Pallasmaa
in the heart of the beast), there have been a continentally-oriented researchers founded and Alberto Pérez-Gómez more often, and
long series of presentations at the Environ- the International Association for Environ- with Tim Ingold only last year.
mental Design Research Association mental Philosophy (IAEP), which continues My point in all this attention to meet-
(EDRA) from the mid-1980s. EDRA still to hold its meetings in conjunction with ings is that environmental and architectural
provides a venue, though some of us no SPEP and SPHS. phenomenology is associated with a diverse,
longer attend because, in many ways, a Many phenomenologists, purged from only loosely connected, group of interesting
hackneyed positivist critique still dominates philosophy departments by analytic philos- people. One result is a richness that comes
(EDRA was where I first met Ingrid Stefa- ophy in the 1970s, had found other arenas in from diversity and occasional cross-fertili-
novic and where the intrepid Seamon still which to operate, including comparative lit- zation. That is the real story. Yes, content
carries on). The International Association of erature. The International Association for matters, but it proceeds from looking, think-
Person-Environment Studies (IAPS), the Philosophy and Literature (IAPL) has been ing, and talking together about our shared
European counterpart to EDRA (and more a two-decades-long site of exchange since world. While new people continuously have
receptive to phenomenology with col- the 1990s. Finally, there have been many found one or another via ongoing activities
leagues such as Gilles Barbey) was a good “one of a kind” meetings focusing on topics and publications, what would have been
venue in the mid-1980s and following. such as place, spirituality, technology, sus-much more random with many missed con-
Architectural, urban, and design-ori- tainability, ecology, landscape, regional nections has been focused and facilitated by
ented work was regularly presented at the studies, and urbanism. EAP.
Association of Collegiate Schools of Archi- It is not too much to say that the wel-
tecture (ACSA) conferences from the mid-
1980s onward and less often at the meetings
of the Association of Collegiate Schools of
A s I noted earlier, what is especially coming attitude prevailing among the peo-
striking is that, while there are some ple involved and promulgated by EAP has
people active in multiple arenas, almost no been a major force for good.
Planning (ACSP). Meanwhile, the blos- one participates in all. Indeed, even in the
soming field of architectural anthropology complex networks elaborated in the various
was hospitable as seen in presentations at conferences and meetings, not everyone

Human Being as Placed Being

Jeff Malpas
Malpas is Distinguished Professor at the University of Tasmania where he works across programs in Architecture, Geography, and
Philosophy. Two of his most recent volumes are Heidegger and the Thinking of Place (MIT Press, 2012); and the edited collection,
The Place of Landscape (MIT Press, 2011). Jeff.Malpas@utas.edu.au. © 2014 Jeff Malpas.

lthough I am certainly not opposed seems to me to underpin the connections be- contemporary significance of phenomenol-
to a phenomenological characteri- tween architecture, environment, and phe- ogy seems to me to reside neither in its cog-
zation, I think of my own work as, nomenology that EAP has been concerned nitive scientific relevance nor in its possible
for the most part, “topological” or “topo- to explore over the past 25 years. connection with aspects of analytic thought,
graphical” rather than “phenomenological.” One problem with some contemporary but rather in the way that issues of place and
Yet I also take phenomenology, along with phenomenology, however, is that it seems to environment arise as central to phenomeno-
hermeneutics, to be essentially topological lose sight of this topological orientation logical inquiry, even if they are sometimes
in character, a point I have argued for else- (and so also to lose sight of its properly tran- obscured within it. This is also why phe-
where (e.g., Place and Experience, 1999). It scendental character). In fact, the continuing nomenology remains important to my own
is precisely this topological character that work, in spite of my ambivalence about

whether that work is itself to be understood Human being is thus placed being. Such a task requires a mode of phe-
as primarily phenomenological in character. This is important for architectural and envi- nomenology that speaks to the phenomena
ronmental thinking, since it is our own em- in their immediacy, their singularity—and

I f phenomenology is described as that beddedness in place and the embeddedness in their everydayness. Such a phenomenol-
mode of philosophical inquiry directed of place in us that underpins and should ogy would be a phenomenology of the
primarily at an understanding of “phenom- guide environmental care and concern as everyday, but also a phenomenology at-
ena”—at an understanding of “what ap- well as architectural design and practice. tuned to the place of the everyday and the
pears” or “is present”—then its topological Greater environmental attentiveness is everydayness of place. To some extent, it is
orientation is already evident in the fact that likely to be achieved only through greater a phenomenology already present, though
every appearing or presencing is itself a attentiveness to our own human being— less in the pages of Husserl and Heidegger
“taking place.” It is this “taking place,” which here means our being in and through than in the articulation of the placed charac-
which is bounded as well as open and dy- place—and the same holds for good archi- ter of experience that is to be found in much
namic, that grounds the idea of topology as tectural and design practice (which is also contemporary architecture, art, music, film
philosophical. Such “taking place” is the why so much contemporary architecture and literature, as well as in many forms of
proper topos of the phenomena—the topos falls short as architecture). Moreover, in personal reflection and practice.
of appearing or presencing. emphasizing the environmental here as tied Perhaps the turn toward a more explic-
The significance of such a topos is not to place, what is also emphasized is a con- itly topological sensibility, even in conjunc-
affected by shifts in the character of place ception of the environmental that itself en- tion with phenomenology, also requires a
and space that supposedly characterize con- compasses the architectural (as the architec- turn toward a closer engagement with ordi-
temporary globalized modernity. We can tural itself overlaps with the environmental). nary life as well as popular culture—to an
say that even globalized modernity appears On such a topological or topographic understanding of topos in its most prosaic
only in and through specific topoi—global- conception, the environmental is not merely forms as that out of which any more devel-
ization is something that occurs only in and that pertaining to the “natural” or “unbuilt” oped engagement, including with environ-
through particular places, in respect of spe- (to that which is other than the human), nor mental questions, must arise.
cific things, localities, and practices. Under- is the architectural about only the “cultural”

standing globalization thus requires an un- or the “built,” but instead both refer us to the his understanding of phenomenology is
derstanding of place—and this is all the entirety of the surrounding world as it is also one that brings with it a fundamen-
more so, given the way in which one of the brought to focus in place, and that therefore tal concern with the ethical—where ethics is
characteristic features of globalization (and includes the built and the unbuilt, the cul- itself already oriented toward the question
of technological modernity more generally) tural and the natural, the urban and the wild. of our placed being in the world. Here place
is to obscure its own placed character. In this way, the genuinely intercon- brings together the ethical with the ontolog-
In this respect, too much of the con- nected and interdependent character of the ical, so that the two are seen as properly and
temporary discourse around globalization world is brought into focus as an intercon- inextricably bound together.
and modernity, even supposedly “critical” nectedness and interdependence that is both Our being placed does not merely de-
discourse, fails to engage with the real char- encompassing and yet also concentrated; termine our being, it is our being, and as
acter of modernity, since the conceptual that is complex and multiple and yet comes such it is also that which is the foundation
framework it employs (typically that of un- to salience in the singularity of place. for our being as ethical—it is in being

bounded flow and connection) is precisely ecognizing the topological character of placed that we are given over to the question
the framework of modernity's own self-rep- phenomenology means recognizing its of our proper relation to ourselves, to others,
resentation—and so also the self-represen- environmental and architectural relevance, and to the world.
tation of contemporary corporate capitalism and yet this may also be thought to bring It is thus that environmental concern,
and bureaucratic-technocratic governance. with it a need to rethink the character of phe- as a concern with the world and our relation
nomenology. Although it does not do away to it as that is articulated in and through

T he topos of the phenomena is a topos in with phenomenology as a mode of philo- place and places, itself arises as a concern
which we are always involved. As such, sophical analysis and description, it sug- that is both ethical and ontological. Such a
the inquiry into topos, the turn back to place, gests that phenomenology has an additional concern has been clearly evident through the
is also a turn back to ourselves. It is, I would task that is directed toward the uncovering pages of EAP. Thanks, as well as congratu-
say, a turn back to the human (although a and articulation of our everyday involve- lations to David Seamon and to EAP on 25
turn that also puts the human in question— ment in the world, as that involvement oc- years of sustained engagement with the is-
puts ourselves in question). The mode of be- curs in and through the places in which our sues at stake here—25 years of sustained en-
ing that is the human is most succinctly lives are embedded, and as it brings those gagement with phenomenology, with envi-
characterized as that mode of being that is places, and the wider environmental con- ronment, with architecture, and with place.
always turned toward topos—even when it text, with all its complexities and interde-
seems to be turned away. pendencies, to light.

Going Deep in Place
Eva-Maria Simms
Simms is a Professor of Psychology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. She has written The Child in the World (Wayne State
Univ. Press, 2008). This essay originally appeared in the on-line journal Vox Populi (http://voxpopulisphere.com) and is used with
permission. simms@duq.edu. © 2014 Eva-Maria Simms.

“travel far on this mountain,” which has be-

F rom ten until I was twenty-eight years

old, I spent none of my birthdays at
home. August was always the time
for travel: my tenth birthday, in a tent at a
girl scout summer camp; my eleventh, in a
changed. It all began with birds. Our back
porch had a canvas awning pulled up in win-
ter, and every spring a pair of rosy house
finches nested in the folds. A pair of mourn-
ing doves has been recycling a nest on the
come more varied and full. My travels do
not go far away anymore, but they go deep.
Going deep in a place means to under-
stand its rhythms and its web of beings: the
convalescent home; my thirteenth, free and ledge above our back door for more than a change of light over the rivers at dawn, the
unsupervised in Salzburg; my fifteenth, ac- decade, and they are probably by now the migration of birds, the first toad lilies of the
companying an elderly great aunt to Wales; offspring of the offspring. I have to make spring, the ebb and flow of human and non-
my seventeenth, as a maid in a dilapidated sure every year that we do not use the porch human beings who are my neighbors. I im-
hotel on a North Sea island; my eighteenth, too early in the season because, as soon as agine that women in hunter-gatherer socie-
in London; my nineteenth, in Prague; my the door opens, the mama bird goes whoosh ties had deep relationships with their places,
twentieth, high up in the Alps; my twenty- and flies away in panic. Every year the same and they cultivated a particular knowledge
first, a Sunday a few days after arriving as a visitors: They come and stay for a few of life in one place. That knowledge was in-
graduate student in Dallas, Texas; my weeks, their babies fledge, and they move scribed into their bones: the legs that walked
twenty-second, at a wedding in Paolo Alto; on to other places when the season ends. and the hands that touched. Their ears un-
and so on. Birds, I noticed, don’t just fly around derstood the cries of animals; their eyes
I left my home in Germany to have my all the time. They make their home in one knew how to see; their hearts welcomed the
American adventure—without knowing I place, and they live there for the season, just
turning of the seasons, even if they were
would never return to live in Germany, apart like we do. They share this place above the cold, wet, and uncomfortable.
from visiting my parents a few weeks most Monongahela River with us. They are our As to the stones under us—the bones
summers. When I was a young woman, it neighbors, which means that they are our of the earth—how rarely do we actually see
seemed to be a sign of my destiny that I nah-gibur (Old High German), our “near- them here in Western Pennsylvania! They
awoke on that special day every year in an- dwellers.” are hidden under layers of leaf mold and
other place, with other people, and without I began to notice other birds returning concrete, but sometimes you find a clearing
a birthday party. It made Salzburg, London, over the years: the chimney swifts who in the woods where the beautiful red sand-
and Prague special. To touch the hearts of come in May; the magnolia warblers, who stone juts from a cliff. Or one notices shiny
those places, I made sure I took my solitary pass through around the same time; the scar- jet coal pieces sometimes flung across old
“birthday walk” on beaches or through the let tanagers, who flash through the woods in trails. The story is that, during the great de-
mazes of city streets. June. Early May is the best time, because, pression, people would gather these coal
My husband Michael and I moved to a through the still sparse leaves, you can see fragments and burn them in their stoves.
house on Mt. Washington after we came to the ruby crowned kinglets in the thickets. Going deep means to look at the stone
Pittsburgh. “We have travelled far on this My favorite neighbors, the coopers’ hawks, and ask: What is under there? How did it
mountain,” he wrote in a poem for me after refurbish their nest and engage in their come about? How strange to notice that all
our son was born. Over the past 25 years, courtship dance. our hills have the same height! But you learn
that line has captured for me a different way they are not hills at all: In this part of Penn-
of travelling. We have lived on the same
mountain since 1987. We have walked the
same streets, have seen children grow up,
M y daily walks through the neighbor- sylvania, there are only valleys carved from
hood streets and woods are now over- a plateau by glacial-melt water during the
laid with a soundscape of birdsong. I slowly last ice ages.
witnessed funeral processions, saw old learned to notice and differentiate the terri-
houses fall and new ones built, and have
looked out over the Monongahela Valley
too many times to count.
torial melody of the wood thrushes or the
warning chips of the chickadees. They don’t True ecological awareness means to go
deep in a natural place. You begin to
seem to mind me—I guess I am nothing understand its fabric or relationships and
compared to a feral cat or a red-tailed hawk. how it changes in time. You remember the

I still travel to Europe every year, but the Slowly, year after year, I have come to animal fellows from years back, and you
direction of my journey has gradually

look forward to their return and the birth of perceptual landscape. It lives in your you, and you give it back. After the last,
their babies. memory and it lives in your thinking be- your body will be of it, and your soul will
You care for this place because you cause it asks you questions, and you search pour itself over the river valleys. You are fi-
have walked it, and it lives in your muscles for answers. nally able to read the braille of the air cur-
and bones. You care for this place because This place lives in your dreams as the rents as they carry other winged friends to-
you have seen and scented and heard it. This landscape of your soul, and you are here to ward their other homes.
place lives in your senses as a differentiated, be its witness. Your breath is of it and in

Viewing Two Sides

Sue Michael
Artist and photographer Sue Michael is a candidate for the degree of Master of Visual Art (research) at the University of South
Australia’s School of Art, Architecture and Design, in Adelaide. Her master’s thesis is entitled, “Mytho-Poetic Domestic Settings of
the Mid North of South Australia: Painting Humanistic Geography.” Featured illustrations in this EAP issue are Michael’s paintings
of a home in Booleroo Centre, a small town (pop. 585) in the Southern Flinders Ranges region of South Australia, about 175 miles
north of Adelaide—see front, back, and next pages. More of her work can be viewed at www.behance.net/soomichael. smichael@west-
net.com.au. Text and paintings © 2014 Sue Michael.

northern reaches of South Australia’s Mid

ustralian historian and writer Paul region as the Ngadjuri did. The sanctity of
Carter (2010) has explored the spa- North have different geographical condi- all life and the skills to make do with what
tial history of Australia and has pro- tions from the more popular local tourist resources were available to adapt to a harsh
vided pathways for me, as an artist, to fol- destinations of the Barossa, Clare Valley, life are foundations for my family’s culture,
low: to meshes of local complexity, the and the Flinders Ranges. Long lines of an- and I feel this directly links to Mid North
clearly invisible, the breached common- cient hills run north to south, sheltering flat geographical influences. A spiritual dimen-
place, and story lines that can be traced back plains usually tinder dry in summer. Pepper- sion runs through my visual-art research and
to unheard voices. Carter offers an approach mint box gums once covered the undulating becomes clearer after each visit to the area
that remains open to negotiation, where the land, but these trees have given way to pas- as I learn to interpret perceived yet unseen
human, non-human, cosmic, and local are toral leases. forces—voices from my family’s past; and
all together. There is very little surface water, and Aboriginality, with its alternative intelli-
Local South Australian knowledge, the unpredictable climate brings flash gence, which has left traces wherever I go.
now gone, was collected by Robert Bruce in floods, bushfires, snow, fierce wind, low If life was difficult in this region, there
his 1902 Reminiscences of an Old Squatter winter temperatures, and unspeakable sum- still seems to be a bias for life and successful
[1]. He wrote: mer heat where snow may have rested a few place making. It is a personal journey I take
months before. Drought is a major shaping with a heuristic approach to research, trying
I used to wonder why those rodents force, and the landscape is dotted with old to see settlement through the eyes of my
[“suahs,” or stick-nest rats] would heap up bores and homestead ruins that tell of the ge- great grandparents: how they made happy
a big cartload of sticks in the shape of a hay- ographical realities (Williams 1974; Meinig homes, full of creative projects, guests, sim-
cock, to roof their nests, when a half a bar- 1963). ple comforts, and laughter.
rowful might have fully met all require- First-nation culture suggests the local My family’s Mid North imagination
ments… those little chaps always had plenty landscape was generous, and the native was shaped by isolation, poverty, and a dif-
of company, for whenever I happened to Ngadjuri people lived successfully in the re- ficult climate, with death close by. Though
drop a lighted match on the windward side gion before battles over water and land ac- few of us stayed on as farmers and shop-
of their woodheaps I always noticed that in cess began with European pastoralists (War- keepers, we learned a beautiful way to relate
a short time afterwards a pretty equally rior 2005). The Ngadjuri barely survived, to the earth, to animals, and to each other.
mixed assemblage of suahs and snakes after a late nineteenth-century decimation of The land is still so calming and soothing to
would leave…Those suahs have long since their numbers and culture through massa- be in. I have heard First Nation people say it
disappeared from the South Australian set- cres, disease, and displacement. Their is a very powerful land.
tled country (quoted in Barker et al. 1995). strong ties to the land, incorporating cos-
The stick-nest rat’s generous domestic
practices, sharing with other species in an
mology, language, and knowledge of local
medicinal plants, have mostly been lost. F rom visiting the region now, I still see
signs of a different way of thinking. Eu-
ropean settlers had no clear rules in the early
arid climate, have permeated my thoughts as
a topos, a schema, particularly in relation to M
y European pioneering ancestors had
strong ties to local Ngadjuri, and I be-
Mid North snakes’ poisonous venom. The lieve my family quickly learned to love the
days and had to make their own sense of
place. Even in today’s “modernized”
homes, I observe signposts of this different

sort of intelligence: special plants are given “enter” the home. Over time, locals have Note
indoor berths or places under the verandah; come to accept the presence of the land- 1. “Squatter” is a term used for earliest Austral-
garden seating allows enjoyment of the nat- scape, enjoying small mercies, adapting and ian pastoralists who used land before claims and
ural environment via numerous orienta- using creative problem-solving, enhancing boundaries were formalized.
tions; patterns of outside shade continue into home spaces to have a better life, without
house interiors; cupboards and cases are focusing on fear.
filled with the gifts from gardens; lounge I see this pattern in my family’s homes
Barker, S., McCaskill, M., & Ward, B., 1995.
rooms with recliners and knee rugs afford and many other Mid North dwellings. When Explore the Flinders Ranges. Adelaide:
sociability, mutual care, and gathering to- I peruse online real-estate photos from the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia.
gether via clustering. region, I note how the aesthetics reflect the Carter, P., 2010. Ground Truthing: Explorations
These observations parallel what thea- surrounding landscape: leaf-litter carpets in a Creative Region. Crawley, Western
ter director Jonathan Miller says of home: and minimal yet atmospheric rooms painted Australia: UWA Press.
the color of coral blush to match the soil. Cliff, S., 2007. Home. NY: Artisan.
I actually think that the function of a great Sometimes, an entire house is painted aqua Meinig, D. W., 1963. On the Margins of the
deal of art should be to redirect your atten- in a defiant “cooling” gesture. Good Earth. London: Murray.
tion to things you would otherwise overlook. Warrior, F., 2005. Ngadjuri: Aboriginal People
Dwelling features like these are all
It’s the overlooked, the negligible, the disre- of the Mid North Region of South Australia.
positive signs of a nourishing living in an Prospect Hill, SA: South Australian Studies
garded, the abandoned and the derelict that unforgiving region where you can die of of Society, Environment Council, Ngadjuri
is actually where the payload is (Cliff 2007). thirst, if the silence or deadly brown snakes Walpa Juri Lands, and Heritage Association.
don’t get to you first. There is so much to Williams, M., 1974. The Making of the South
Miller’s domestic observation points think about from alternative points of view. Australian Landscape. NY: Academic Press.
toward a central premise of my art: that na-
ture’s powerful presence is felt intensely to

Left: Sue Michael, The New Car, 60 x 130 cm,


Left: Sue Michael, Booleroo Kitchen, 20 x 38

cm, 2013. Michael writes: “These simple do-
mestic scenes point to neat, tidy, practical
ways, with all that you need close at hand. The
red dust and drought do impinge, but like a
sweeping of the floor, life begins anew, in its
own time.”

Giving Space to Thoughts on Place
Dennis Skocz
Skocz is a philosopher and independent scholar who uses phenomenology to pursue thematic interests in media, environment, and
economics. His articles have appeared in Analecta Husserliana and other philosophical journals. skocz@verizon.net. © 2014 Dennis
E. Skocz.

H ow better to celebrate the 25th anni-

versary of Environmental and Ar-
chitectural Phenomenology than to
reflect on the enduring importance of EAP’s
aims? We humans are spatial to the core, not
for the marketspace that developed with
capitalism. Tönnies gives us much to think
about in regard to social interaction medi-
ated by markets and the “spacings” that en-
sue therefrom. In any case, I invite my col-
discomfort, pain, fear, intrusion, disruption,
housekeeping responsibilities, or anger with
poor service. Would such an arrangement
leave something to be desired? Would there
be a basis for calling any place in the suc-
so much “lost in space” as “found in place.” leagues to scan the founding literature of so- cession of places one occupies over a life-
The public spaces in which we speak and act ciology noting how much dis-placing and time one’s own—in other than a very tem-
and the private spaces from which we re-spacing figures in the thinking of the poral sense? What would be missing for you
emerge and to which we return each day early sociologies. to say, “This is my place,” and mean it? And
form the two domains within which and be- how important to you would it be to have
tween which the time of our lives plays out.
Space and time are less Kant’s a priori forms
of intuition than they are that lived unity that
L et me shift now from the marketspace
of global capitalism to the “home
front.” Here, I would propose to EAP read-
whatever it took for you to call a place a
room of your own?
The thought experiment framed here
everyday speaking calls “taking place.” ers a thought experiment. Imagine that you can be seen phenomenologically as an im-
Place—public and private—is “built into” are a well compensated, white-collar worker aginative variation intended to achieve ei-
who we are as it is “built up” in our archi- or manager or executive or even Wall Street detic insight into the essence of “owness”
tecture. financier—or perhaps best for our purposes, or, more specifically, into the nature of a
My first ambition was to be an archi- a successful Willy-Lohman traveling sales- place one calls one’s own. The bigger, fol-
tect, and my dissertation in philosophy was man. Every night you check into a first-class low-on question—one I have returned to re-
on private property. In recent courses, I have hotel. Your every wish is satisfied by your currently since writing my dissertation—is
called upon my classes to think open-end- ability to select your accommodation and whether having a place of one’s own is a
edly on philosopher Hannah Arendt’s un- the attentive care provided by the hotel staff constitutive dimension of human being-in-
derstanding of the ancient Greek distinction and other workers in the hospitality indus- the-world.
of the public and private as it bears on our try. Architecture and interior design work Would we be less human without a
lives today as selves and citizens. It seems their magic to create a guest experience with place to call our own? Is the reflection initi-
that the fate of the public and private rises “no (unpleasant) surprises.” Your laundry is ated above so culturally embedded that its
and falls in tandem and that, in a trend of always done for you, beds made, meals pre- relevance to other humans elsewhere is
long-making and uncertain outcome, each pared and brought to your room if you like. questionable? Or is the challenge to own-
has become less distinct. The result is a No need to water the plants in the room or ness from elsewhere—in this case, a place
lived topography more uniform and less hu- care for the grounds. Your family can stay somewhere else, someone else’s place—al-
man. with you. Baby-sitting and pet care are pro- ready itself testimony to the importance of
I put the following as a hypothesis to vided. place to our being-in-the-world? Is a divi-
EAP readers: Sociology as it developed in The one condition in this thought ex- sion of places into those we find familiar or
the nineteenth century was the expression periment is that you cannot stay long in any strange testimony to a social landscape
and product of world-transforming dis- one location. Whatever you brought with zoned by mine and thine, ours and yours? Is
placements brought on by modernity. I in- you into a room or suite must leave with such a social-cultural-historical environ-
clude within the scope of this hypothesis all you. You cannot modify your rooms, though ment as much a part of human being-in-
the Great Grandfathers of sociology but of course you can move to a hotel that better world as embodiment and speech?
think now especially of German sociologist suits your changing aesthetic requirements.
Ferdinand Tönnies and his distinction of
Gesellschaft and Gemeinschaft, often trans-
lated as society and community (Tönnies
If someone were to ask you where you
might be in three years, you would not be
able to say. The material conditions of exist-
I n his list of potential discussion questions
for essays in this special twenty-fifth-an-
niversary issue of EAP, David Seamon asks
1887/1957). Tönnies’ rendering of commu- ence in this scenario are intended to rule out whether phenomenology can contribute to a
nity may be somewhat romantic, but soci- any negative judgment regarding one’s cir- politics and ideology of place. I think the an-
ety, Gesellschaft, stands first and foremost cumstances based on conditions relating to swer is “yes.” For Virginia Wolf, a “room of

one’s own” meant a place for women in the the demands on natural resources required place, a home for diverse, imaginative, and
world of literature, politics, and ideas. The to maintain a comfortable living space. Our timely phenomenology. Let me add my
book of that title is a manifesto of the femi- buildings can effect an unconscious and po- words to congratulate and thank David Sea-
nist movement. Contested spaces are drivers tentially harmful suspension or epoché not mon for initiating and sustaining an essen-
of conflict. Holy lands and terra sancta en- so much from the natural attitude as from tial and continuing dialogue over the 25
ter into secular and political struggle and nature itself. Conversely, there is, to answer years of EAP’s existence.
warfare. The global phenomenon of migra- another of Seamon’s questions, an architec-
tion and refugee movement is a narrative of ture that makes for better placemaking, one References
dis-placement and finding one’s place again that connects us to our natural surroundings Skocz, D., 2010. Husserl’s Coal-Fired Phe-
in the world. not only aesthetically but also thoughtfully, nomenology: Energy and Environment
A few years ago, EAP offered me the grounding us in the material conditions of in an Age of Whole-House Heating and
opportunity to suggest how a micro-phe- our existence. Air-Conditioning. Environmental and
nomenology of living in “climate-con- EAP is a record of its readers’ and con- Architectural Phenomenology, 21, 2
trolled” dwellings can shape or distort our tributors’ ongoing efforts at “getting into (spring): 16–21.
relationship to the natural environment out- place” and demonstrates the value of phe- Tönnies, F. 1887/1957. Community and So-
side (Skocz 2010). Built space can isolate us nomenological reflection toward that aim. ciety. NY: Dover.
from the vagaries of weather and climate or It is itself a place for coming to terms with

Place, Philosophy, and Non-Philosophy

Bruce Janz
Janz is Professor of Humanities in the Philosophy Department at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is also graduate
faculty with the Texts and Technologies PhD program, and director of the Center for Humanities and Digital Research. He has written
Philosophy in an African Place (Lexington Books, 2009). Bruce.janz@ucf.edu © 2014 Bruce Janz.

M y partner Lisa is fond of saying

that we go into our academic ar-
eas based on what confuses and
bewilders us. She means this somewhat fa-
cetiously when she thinks about her own
the prairies we supposed that only we could
understand, and also the invisibility of that
feature. We felt like we had a secret, privi-
leged knowledge of that place.
And yet, when it came time to go off
physics and away from biology, on the
grounds that physics seemed simpler to
me—just equations and laws. Biological en-
tities were messy—every one of them had a
new set of facts to know. Every one of them
area, creative writing, and adjacent areas to university in Ontario, I didn’t look back. was particular. Just like places.
such as rhetoric and literature. She suspects It didn’t get into my bones the way I saw
her area draws people who are baffled by
basic human communication and coherent
that it did for others. It was the new place
that I wanted. Was I “differently-abled,”
lacking a place-sense that others possessed
W e know a lot about the philosophy of
place but little about the place of phi-
losophy or, rather, the places of philosophy.
She’s probably right. I can say that I and so much the poorer for it? Maybe. I We tend to think that philosophy has no
was drawn to studying place in part because went into philosophy, after all, notoriously place, that the development of its concepts
it baffled me. I grew up on the Canadian the discipline least concerned about place, at is historical accident, which is not, of
prairies, and Saskatchewan is full of writers least classically. Didn’t philosophers rise as course, susceptible to logical analysis and
and artists who feel the need to explain the quickly as possible to the level of the uni- therefore of little philosophical interest.
mystical draw of wide spaces to detractors versal, and leave all those messy particulars This perspective is evident even in pol-
in the rest of Canada. There is a strong at- for other disciplines? icies from the American Philosophical As-
tachment to place where I come from, but When philosophers did think about sociation concerning ethics. There are nu-
while I love where I’m from, I didn’t quite place, it was much like how Hegel thought merous statements on aspects of philosophy
understand why that attachment existed. about “individual”—as a universal concept as a profession but few on the ethics of phi-
It’s not that I couldn’t see the beauty that attached itself to all particular things. losophy itself. If we compare the APA state-
or understand the subtle colors and sounds. Place was like that—everything had one, ments to other national academic organiza-
I still remember the smell of the wheat har- and therefore the philosophical task was to tions, such as the American Anthropological
vest in August and the crispness of hoarfrost consider this shared feature of all particular- Association, we find that those groups re-
in the brilliant winter sun. W. O. Mitchell’s ities. I suppose my attraction to philosophy flect on the ethics of the methods and prac-
Who Has Seen The Wind? was read by every should not have been a surprise—in high tices of anthropologists qua anthropologists,
school child, and it both evoked a feature of school science, I also gravitated toward rather than anthropologists qua profession-
als or university members.

The distinction is important, as it most hard-nosed rationalists in the depart- (or at least what the limits of its concepts
points to an interesting gap within philoso- ment recognized that these concepts had are).
phy. Despite supposedly “owning” the sub- currency in society, even if they wished that Taking experience seriously means
discipline of ethics, it is a study to be applied they didn’t. Some were concepts that had a that the conduit from the non-philosophical
largely outside of philosophy itself, rather special significance in Kenya, given their to the philosophical was in the reflection on
than inside. Why? Because ethics is about political and social climate—corruption, de- the elements of that experience, not in some
how we act toward people and, in philoso- mocracy, political representation, race. description of the metaphysical structure of
phy, there are no people. Of course, there are These, of course, are issues in any place, but the world, reflection on the mind of God, or
people engaged in philosophical activity, they have a particular significance in a place deduction from existing categories and con-
but there are no people who are the subject that has emerged recently from colonialism, cepts. Phenomenology is philosophy, but it
of philosophy. Concepts are thought to be and has neo-colonial structures in place. is also method. That method is perhaps the
free-floating, without owners, without crea- And, there was a discussion of method— first to allow philosophy to become self-
tors or audiences, and without place. So, the Kenyan philosopher Odera Oruka proposed conscious about its place and about the
APA does not have a policy on how those “sage philosophy,” an approach to African meaning of place for thought. It is no longer
concepts are obtained, or whether there is philosophy that looked for philosophical a philosophy of place but philosophy in
some sort of intellectual property entitle- concepts and arguments among traditional place, as well as philosophy which, for the
ment to concepts, or what happens if a con- sages. first time, sees place as a condition of
cept is let loose on the world and helps or And so it became clear that African thought.
harms someone. philosophy was one site of philosophy that
Given what I’ve said, you might think
I’ve arrived home. Someone like me who
isn’t sure of his place attachment has found
necessarily needed to attend to its own
place. Unfortunately, that has often been un-
derstood as carving out a space from a recal-
M any philosophical concepts and meth-
ods have become useful in a wide
range of disciplines. Sometimes that use is
the one discipline with no place. And yet, citrant philosophical mainstream and assert- explicitly recognized and sometimes, not.
this bothers me immensely. This cannot be ing ownership over a body of material. Phenomenology has turned out to be ex-
right. There must be a blind spot in the his- That’s fine but doesn’t go far. It treats phil- traordinarily useful in resisting positivist
tory and practice of philosophy. Nothing is osophical space as if it was a map, and there tendencies of those disciplines to reduce
from nowhere. We aren’t gods, and we is finite intellectual property that must be place to data, as well as the modernist ten-
shouldn’t pretend that we are. Philosophy claimed. It was not yet a focus on philosoph- dency to abstract place into location or co-
must be in place and be able to credibly con- ical place, the sort that leveraged existing ordinates (Janz 2005). Even as it provides
duct its activity knowing full well that it is into new concepts adequate for Kenyan the conversion of non-philosophy into phi-
in place, and yet not have the self-reflection lived experience. To understand what that losophy, it also allows (for example) anthro-
on its own platiality change its activity into would look like, phenomenology is needed. pologists to move from non-anthropology to
something else. The platiality of philosophy anthropology without simply imposing a
cannot turn it into literature, or politics, or
sociology. But how is this possible? P henomenology, it should be said, has
had place embedded in its bones from
the beginning. Husserl, following Brentano,
theoretical structure on the observable
world (as happens with modernist forms of
anthropology such as functionalism).

I n summer, 1990, I was in Nairobi, Kenya,

supporting my soon-to-be spouse in her
relief and development work. I visited the
started with intentionality, which enabled
him to move from an empirical investigation
of the world (largely placeless) to an exam-
We might suppose that the non-philos-
ophy that philosophy would be interested in
would be things like myth, folk belief, or
philosophy department, and several more ination that took seriously the standing and tradition. We might further include things
times in the subsequent years, mostly to find experience of the perceiver. Even if his goal like the passions, art, religion in general, and
out what interested the philosophers in was universal experience, his starting point so forth. All of those have been the subject
Kenya. It became clear to me that, while was a version of human experience not gen- of philosophical thought, at least to the ex-
they were aware of and engaged in the wider eralized from the beginning. He had a notion tent that the philosophical task has been
world of philosophy, they were also acutely of the horizon, well before Gadamer. The seen as one of determining demarcation be-
aware of the image that philosophy in Africa lived body and its experience in space was tween what can be reasoned about and what
had in the rest of the world. central to understanding human experience. cannot (e.g., Kant)
Not only that. They were aware of the Perhaps most importantly, phenome- But there is more than that. The natural
concepts that they had to address, which had nology accepted that philosophy had to pay world is non-philosophy, while at the same
currency in Kenyan society. These were not attention to non-philosophy. I do not mean time, if Deleuze and others are right (and I
free-floating concepts, available to anyone. non-philosophy in French philosopher suspect they are), it is also a place that
They were “live” in the sense that they were François Laruelle’s sense, which is a broad- pushes and jogs us into new ways of con-
taken seriously. Some were very traditional ening of philosophy (Laruelle 2010). I mean ceptualizing it. We see the alien nature of
concepts, such as those tied to witchcraft, that phenomenology takes seriously the the “olfactory poems” of dogs in the misty
ancestor veneration, and so forth. Even the question of where philosophy comes from, morning field (to quote Aldo Leopold) and
what its lifeblood is, and what its limits are realize a legibility to the world that has an

effect on us while being at the far edges of the process of making sense out of what al- place—undifferentiated strip malls or the
our experience. Place is phenomenology’s ready is meaningful for us. We experience “next big thing” to provide economic revi-
attention to the “blooming buzzing confu- place as always already meaningful but also talization. Urban decay and homes where
sion” of particularity and its commitment to as resisting meaning at the same time, as the yard is mowed but where no one has
the notion that the world is always already having a kind of opacity as well as transpar- lived for years, under the theory that, if
meaningful, while at the same time also ency. There is, after all, non-philosophy. We something resembles a place, it will con-
strange, opaque, and contradictory. take meaningful existence and interrogate it tinue to be a place.
Phenomenology is not the only philo- in various ways, laying bare what is hidden. And yet, my very act of living here,
sophical approach taking seriously the bor- At the same time, however, we provide a along with many others, means that this
der between non-philosophy and philoso- conduit from non-philosophy to philosophy. place is intelligible, at least to me, at the
phy. We can find this question raised by Phenomenological investigation exists in same time as it is mystifying. It is without
many 20th-century thinkers, in one way or both of those moments, both in the constitu- question non-philosophy. My colleagues in
another. It is remarkable, though, when you tion of the world as meaningful place (in- Kenya have their version of non-philosophy
start tracing it back, how much even think- cluding the recognition of the limits of to grapple with, and I have mine.
ers fairly hostile to phenomenology are, in meaning and the presence of non-philoso-
fact, indebted to it. Deleuze, for instance, of- phy) and then in our reflective ability to in- References
ten seen as diverging significantly from phe- terrogate that world. Janz, B., 2005. Walls and Borders: The
nomenology, can be seen to be working out Perhaps philosophy isn’t as placeless Range of Place, City and Community 4,
a phenomenological project, at least if Hus- as it first appeared. 1: 87–94.
serl’s later generative phenomenology is the Hughes, J., 2008. Deleuze and the Genesis
model (Hughes 2008).
Philosophy, I think, exists wherever
you find it. It is disciplinarily within a set of
S o I am still out of place. I think I proba- of Representation. NY: Continuum.
bly always will be. I live in Orlando Laruelle, F., 2010. Philosophies of Differ-
Florida, and I keep thinking of Edward ence. NY: Continuum.
conversations and questions that stretch Relph’s idea of “placelessness.” Placeless-
back through time and space. But it is also ness, alas, seems all too often to fit this

Can there be a Phenomenology of Nature?

Janet Donohoe
Donohoe is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia. She has just published Remembering
Places: A Phenomenological Study of the Relationship between Memory and Place (Lexington Books, 2014). jdonohoe@westga.edu.
© 2014 Janet Donohoe.

P henomenology has traditionally been

understood to focus on universal
structures of consciousness that make
experience possible. Many thinkers suggest
that this perspective makes nature merely a
universal elements can only be discovered
through a genetic phenomenological ac-
count of experience of nature. The genetic
account is characterized by phenomenolog-
ical philosopher Edmund Husserl in his later
having been posed by thought” [1]. This po-
sition does not reduce nature to a cultural
construct because, ultimately, it views na-
ture not as a thing but as a ground and hori-
zon of experience itself.
correlate of consciousness, thus indicating work as an asking back into the sedimented
that nature could not possibly be universal
or structural. Other thinkers argue that this
understanding of phenomenology embraces
layers of the natural attitude.
Seen in this way, genetic phenomenol-
ogy allows us to peel away layers of cultural
T he difficulty is that many theorists want
to establish nature as something inde-
pendent of and “beyond” the experience of
an anthropocentric viewpoint that under- sedimentation that characterize our consti- nature. This perspective inclines toward a
mines any intrinsic value of nature. tution in the natural attitude, revealing the conception of nature as a thing in itself land-
While these positions may be true on a way in which the facts of the natural attitude ing us back in a kind of Kantian position of
particular reading of phenomenology, I are already laden with meaning but also rec- a “natural” realm that we cannot attain. Phe-
would like to suggest here that a genetic ognizing that there is a fundamental, univer- nomenology, on the other hand, has always
phenomenological account of nature allows sal level of experience of nature that sup- conceived of the natural world as not a thing
us to understand that there is nothing natural ports those cultural meanings. As Merleau- in itself but as a thing of experience. This
about nature and that, in spite of nature’s Ponty explains in his 1960s lectures, “nature thing of experience is not thereby reduced to
cultural embeddedness, there can be univer- is what has a meaning without this meaning subjective experience, pure and simple, be-
sal elements of our experiences of it. These

cause all experience is viewed as intersub- That world with which we begin and from dental conditions for the possibility of expe-
jectively, historically, and culturally embed- which subjectivity or consciousness can rience of any homeworld or alienworld, we
ded. never be separated is what Husserl called come closer to what Husserl, in his later
Phenomenologically, we also recog- the lifeworld. The lifeworld is the environ- work, means by the term [4]. Husserl ex-
nize that there are both the pregiven and the ing world, the surrounding world of our eve- plains:
given that characterize any experience and ryday sense that grounds any conception of
that allow us to speak of the constitution of an objective scientific world. Does this There exists a fundamental difference be-
nature in that experience. Finally, we under- mean that lifeworld is subjective? Not for tween the way we are conscious of the world
stand that the constitution of nature is not Husserl. It is a false division to establish an and the way we are conscious of things or
the same as the creation or production of na- objective world over against subjectivity. objects (taken in the broadest sense, but still
ture. As philosopher Ted Toadvine sug- Instead, Husserl speaks of lifeworld as hav- purely in the sense of the life-world), though
gested nearly 20 years ago, ing an essential structure that he calls the together the two make up an inseparable
lifeworld a priori. unity. Things, objects (always understood
The truth of the claim that nature simply is This deeper conception of the life- purely in the sense of the life-world), are
nature as experienced is demonstrated pre- world includes the objective sciences as ‘given’ as being valid for us in each case (in
cisely by the world, the world we know and well as the constituted cultural worlds of some mode or other of ontic certainty) but
see all around us. This is the world of our homeworld and alienworld [3]. The life- in principle only in such a way that we are
experience—none other. Any world with world is not just empirical sensuous experi- conscious of them as things or objects
which we intend to deal must come to us ence. It includes ideas and scientific theories within the world-horizon [5].
through this very one [2]. and their results within it because it is the
The important term here is horizon,

pregiven, unthematized, natural world of
nother misunderstanding about phe- experience. which is not something that can ever be
nomenology is in viewing phenomeno- The general structures that Husserl made an object of experience but is never-
logical distinctions as separations. In any wants to focus upon are those elements of theless entailed in any experience, for all ex-
experience, there is a constitutive act and the lifeworld that are bound to its relative perience is horizonal. This means that the
that which is given—these are two sides of being as homeworld or alienworld; in other horizon that is lifeworld is pregiven rather
the same experience and they are distinct words, those that cannot be separated off than given, that it is the very condition of
but not separate. One cannot be without the from any particular cultural world, but that any objects of world as being given. Be-
other. Nature cannot be without subject, are themselves not relative. These are the cause lifeworld is pregiven, it cannot be de-
subject cannot be without nature. It is true lifeworld a priori. This universal lifeworld a scribed in the same way we might describe
that if we focus upon consciousness as the priori is distinct from an objective a priori a cultural homeworld or alienworld, as hav-
sole key to understanding experience then that has been established by the idealizing ing particular characteristics or a peculiar
nature becomes secondary. Husserlian ge- sciences. The sciences are dismissive of sense. Rather, it is the very condition of the
netic phenomenology, however, begins with their own foundations within a lifeworld full possibility of sense, but which itself cannot
the natural concept of the world. Husserl de- of presuppositions in favor of their univer- be made an object of sense. It is horizon and
scribes this as the lifeworld way into phe- sal, idealized, geometrized world. ground of both culturally relative home-
nomenology as opposed to his earlier Carte- Instead, Husserl is interested in the worlds and alienworlds.
sian way. By beginning with the natural common structure that all cultural worlds To think of lifeworld not as object but
concept of the world, we draw into question share regardless of their layers of sedi- as horizon is to recognize it as a way in
the apodicticity of consciousness in favor of mented cultural history. This lifeworld a pri- which something is experienced or revealed.
the pregivenness of the world. In other ori is still a perceptual world whereas an ob- That which is presupposed in the constitu-
words, it is an acknowledgement that we are jective lifeworld is not. tion of anything at all is the pregiven life-
always already aware of the world before One of the ways to avoid the mistaken world as horizon of such constitution. It is
we consciously turn toward it in analysis or separation of subject from world is to avoid about a style of constitution of which we are
reflection. thinking of the lifeworld as an object. Life- unaware and which remains unthematized
What we must investigate, then, is that world is not something we can experience in because it is the very condition of constitu-
world of which we are always already its wholeness. It is not something we can tion of a cultural world and, as horizon of
aware. What is its structure? How is it grasp as an object, not even if we constitution, cannot be brought to presence
pregiven, presupposed? What are the condi- acknowledge that it is an intersubjective ob- itself. That lifeworld horizon is at the same
tions of constitution that make experience of ject. time a ground of every experience of home-
nature possible? This leads to an under- This understanding still relies upon an world or alienworld, since it entails the
standing of the constituting subject that is idea of the subject as absolute and every- world history of earth that belongs to every
lived-body, in-the-world, and a thoroughly thing as relative to it—the subject as master people of earth.
intersubjective meaning never separated off

and commander of world. Instead, if we o what accounts for our sense that nature
from the natural world. think of lifeworld in terms of its transcen- exists independently of us and is not our

human construction? I would suggest here nature that allows me to recognize my em- away sedimented layers of sense, genetic
that nature, insofar as it is given, makes pos- beddedness within a pregiven nature, while phenomenology helps to reveal the presup-
sible the sense that it is not simply a matter at the same time acknowledging my unique positions of our everyday approach to the
of our constitution. Givenness of anything role in the renewal and critique of the values natural world and, in so doing, leaves us pre-
of experience is what challenges us or calls that are passed along through any response pared for a process of renewal and critique.
us forth into the experience. A thing draws to nature.
our attention, asks for our focus upon it, or Notes
makes itself felt in the background of a con-
stitutional activity. We do not come up with
experience out of whole cloth.
O nce we begin thinking of policy-mak-
ing or implementation, we tend to
leave phenomenology behind and to take on
1. M. Merleau-Ponty, La Nature: Notes,
cours du Collège de France (Paris: Edi-
tions du Seuil, 1995) p. 19, p. 20; as cited
The importance of a phenomenology the instrumental, reductive approach as by Renaud Barbaras, “Merleau-Ponty
of nature comes precisely from this particu- masters of nature that we recognize theoret- and Nature,” Research in Phenomenol-
lar vantage point that phenomenology ically to be problematic. How can phenom- ogy, vol. 31 (2001) p. 29.
makes possible. It is the vantage point that enology hold us to account? What renewal 2. T. Toadvine, “Naturalizing Phenomenol-
allows for the theorist to see herself as al- and critique requires is an understanding of ogy” Philosophy Today, vol. 44 (1999),
ways involved in the world and responding traditional ways of thinking and responding p. 126.
to the world rather than separating herself to nature that establish our role as masters of 3. J. Donohoe, Remembering Places (NY:
from the world and making that world an nature, as the ones who can put things right. Lexington, 2014), pp. 12–20.
object. Critique requires of us that we draw that ap- 4. For more on the earlier notion of life-
A phenomenology of nature also al- proach into question by attempting as far as world as object in Husserl, see A. Stein-
lows us to recognize that, in spite of differ- possible to expose the pregiven elements of bock, Home and Beyond (Evanston, IL:
ences of homeworld or alienworld, there are our constitution and attempt to move for- Northwestern Univ. Press, 1995), pp.
fundamental structures of lifeworld ward with a new kind of thinking. 98–102.
pregiven in any worldly givenness. Nature What a genetic phenomenology of na- 5. E. Husserl, The Crisis of European Sci-
is never object to my subject. Rather, we are ture can offer, then, is a partner to the more ences and Transcendental Phenomenol-
intertwined in such a fundamental way that empirical, concrete sciences that are focused ogy (Evanston, IL: Northwestern Univ.
I can respond to the call to attentiveness to on environmental issues, which are issues of Press, 1970), p. 143.
world and nature. In allowing us to peel

The Phenomenology of Betweenness

Encountering Nature’s Wholeness
Mark Riegner
Riegner is a Professor of Environmental Studies at Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. His research interests embrace understand-
ing form and pattern in animals from a phenomenological perspective within the contexts of ecology and evolutionary dynamics. He
is also interested in the history and philosophy of science. mriegner@prescott.edu © 2014 Mark Riegner.

When something has acquired a form, it metamorphoses immediately to a new one. If we wish to arrive at some living perception of
nature, we ourselves must remain as quick and flexible as nature and follow the example she gives.
—J. W. von Goethe (quoted in Miller 1988, p. 64)

W hether we observe a natural phe-

nomenon on a relative micro-
scale (e.g., a sprouting spring
flower) or on a macro-scale (e.g., an oak for-
chrysalis. Underlying these disparate exam-
ples is the recognition that change takes
place in a temporal dimension—i.e., change
occurs over various time spans.
of transformation among its various parts
and structures?
Furthermore, if we gaze, for example,
into a tide pool, and we note the differently
est through the seasons), it is evident that We can, however, extend our observa- shaped shells of the various snail species,
transformation underlies all things. While tions to an apparently stationary object, say we can ask: What is it that changes from one
many transformations are gradual and im- a wildflower on the edge of a trail, and ask form to another? What form elements shift
perceptible—consider the growth of a pine whether there is evidence of change across (e.g., height of spire, number of whorls,
tree—many others are abrupt and even star- a spatial dimension. In other words, does the number and distinctiveness of ribs) and to
tling, such as a butterfly emerging from its organism, in the moment, offer us a picture what degree do they change?

As I hope to show, these are not idle that could logically “fit” between any two along the length of the plant. This is the es-
questions but necessary first steps of a phe- shapes in the series, say between d and e. sence of metamorphosis: Both unity and its
nomenological method that can lead us to a This is possible because we readily grasp manifestation in diversity are entwined in
cognitive experience of wholeness ex- the context that gives meaning to the order the phenomenon. Evidence of this notion in-
pressed within and among living organisms. of the shapes—and is itself accessed cludes plant structures that are morphologi-
The pioneer of the particular phenom- through the shapes. That context then in- cal combinations of two organs, as if the dif-
enological path I outline here is the influen- forms our ability to draw a “missing” shape. ferentiation process were unable to actualize
tial poet, playwright, and naturalist J. W. Moreover, rather than seeing the shapes as fully; or organs that appear in the “wrong”
von Goethe (1749–1832), who developed a isolated phenomena juxtaposed in space, we place. This can occur as a “mistake” in de-
way of science centered on keen, penetrat- instinctively see them as steps in a develop- velopment, such as the proliferous rose that
ing observation (Amrine et al. 1987; Sea- mental process, frozen moments in a contin- caught Goethe’s attention in that it pos-
mon and Zajonc 1998; Bortoft 1996, 2012; uum. sessed a stem with leaves protruding from
Holdrege 2013; Riegner 2013). How many missing shapes are there? the center of the flower; or the proliferous
Here, I do not explicate the epistemo- Clearly, as a property of a continuum, there carnation that exhibited multiple additional
logical underpinnings of the breadth and exists an infinite number of missing or, bet- stalked flowers growing out of the main co-
depth of Goethe’s contribution. Rather, I fo- ter, potential shapes in the sequence. In fact, rolla (ibid., pp. 93–96).
cus on a central aspect of Goethean phe- between any two shapes, there exists an in- Many plant species, however, demon-
nomenology: the notion of metamorphosis. finite number of potential shapes. There are, strate configurations of incomplete differen-
As expressed in the opening epigraph, Goe- however, limits to the infinite number of po- tiation under normal circumstances, e.g., the
the saw all phenomena as transitory—mo- tential shapes because not any random shape familiar poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima;
mentary manifestations moving from a past will do. Like hearing a wrong note played in Euphorbiaceae), in which the pollinator-at-
toward a future. a melody, we would immediately notice an traction role, usually characteristic of the
Be they clouds, rivers, plants, animals, incorrect shape misplaced in the sequence. corolla, is shifted to the brilliant red upper
or the observer, all phenomena are embed- One final point regarding this pictorial leaves; or the neotropical heliconias (Heli-
ded in an ongoing process of metamorpho- sequence: A distinguishing feature ex- coniaceae) where intermediate forms be-
sis. Furthermore, by carefully attending to pressed through the relationship of the tween leaf and bract are typical (fig. 2, be-
the metamorphosis of the phenomenon at shapes to each other is that they exhibit both low).
hand, the observer can be led into a cogni- difference and sameness simultaneously. In
tive experience of the wholeness of the phe- other words, each shape in the sequence can
nomenon. be considered the same shape expressed in
In this essay, I attempt to lead the various degrees of modification. I will re-
reader toward this cognitive experience or, turn to this point later, but for now we can
at the very least, to offer an explanation of ask: How does this example apply to the no-
what this experience may entail. tion of metamorphosis in nature?

B efore we look at natural phenomena, it

may be instructive to begin with a geo-
metric example (fig. 1, below). As we
I n The Metamorphosis of Plants, Goethe
(1790) took great pains to describe
clearly and objectively the various organs
glance at the shapes from left to right (or of the plant, noting morphological details of
from right to left), note that shape and size shape, size, juxtaposition, and so forth. One
change in an orderly manner. Furthermore,
the shading changes in a stepwise fashion.
of his many key insights was the observa-
tion that the plant is all “leaf,” meaning
T o grasp fully the notion of metamorpho-
sis, one needs to hold difference and
sameness simultaneously in one’s con-
Several features appear to be correlated and there is one transformative movement, one sciousness (as in the example of figure 1).
accordingly change in concert. gesture (not an actual leaf) that comes to ex- Bortoft (2012) described this cognitive ex-
If the shapes were cut out and reor- pression through the various spatially ar- perience as an act of distinguishing:
dered randomly, a student would have little ranged organs, such as among the leaves up
problem arranging them in the original or- the stem, in the calyx, corolla, and stamens: Distinguishing is a dual movement of think-
derly progression. One would also be able ing which goes in opposite directions at
easily to draw an intermediate oval shape The organ that expanded on the stem as leaf, once: in one direction it differences [read as
assuming a variety of forms, is the same or- a verb], whereas in the other direction it re-
gan that now contracts in the calyx, expands lates. So the act of distinction ‘differ-
again in the petal, contracts in the repro- ences/relates’—not differences and relates,
ductive apparatus, only to expand finally as because this would be two movements,
fruit (ibid., p. 100). whereas there is one movement which is
dual (ibid., p. 22).
In other words, there is one ideal organ
that comes to expression in modified form

to this quality of betweenness as the not a representation of the organizing prin-
“context of movement,” which relates ciple, a copy of it ‘in the mind,’ but the or-
and integrates all the spatially dispar- ganizing principle itself acting in thinking.
ate parts into a unified whole.
Of course, nothing tangible is in
motion in figure 3; it’s only in the
mind’s eye that a movement or gesture
I n the last part of this essay, I outline some
possible examples of this phenomenolog-
ical approach through which we can attempt
comes to expression. But once the at- to grasp betweenness as a dynamic reality
tentive observer grasps the context of such that all parts become revelations of the
movement—the dynamic quality of whole. Besides observing and comparing
betweenness in the metamorphosis—it the structures of a plant, one can apply the
becomes objectively evident what may same way of seeing to an animal. Holdrege
constitute the potential, as yet unman- (1999), for example, examines the biologi-
ifested, forms. Just as one can draw cal details of the sloth, noting how all its
We can practice this mode of cognition endless triangles or rectangles if one grasps parts, including behavior, integrate into an
by studying the leaf metamorphosis of a the “rules” that inform them, so can one expressive whole. No part of the animal is
given plant. As in many annual plants, the draw endless leaves that could conceivably superfluous and each has significance in the
ragleaf bahia (Bahia dissecta; Asteraceae) fit into the sequence. context of the living organism.
(fig. 3, above), a common plant of the cen- The next step is to regard how a partic- Another approach is to contrast two
tral Arizona highlands, exhibits a marked ular flower is associated with a given leaf seemingly very different organisms so that
transformation of the leaf shape up the stem, metamorphosis. Compared to imagining a each can be used to illuminate the other.
technically known as heterophylly. In pre- potential leaf in the sequence, this effort is Here, too, Holdrege (1998) provides an ex-
paring this figure, I removed the leaves from much more challenging because it entails a ample in his comparison of the horse and the
the stem and then dried, pressed, and ar- yet deeper cognitive experience of the plant, lion; whereas the horse accentuates, for in-
ranged them in a spiral, the lowest stem an experience that approaches what Goethe stance, the skeletal system and hooves by
leaves at the bottom left; the uppermost described as the Urpflanze or “Archetypal providing a rigid support structure (the
leaves and terminal flowers, near the center Plant.” Goethe pointed to this experience horse can sleep standing up), the lion is
of the arrangement. and its associated application: dominated by the muscular system, which
One can readily see the progression of exhibits remarkable suppleness and dra-
one leaf shape to the next in the sequence. With this model and the key to it, it will be matic swings between tension and relaxa-
Clearly, no two leaves are identical. Note possible to go on forever inventing plants tion (when relaxed, the lion collapses to the
that it’s through their ordered differences and know that their existence is logical; that ground).
that the movement or gesture becomes intel- is to say, if they do not actually exist, they One can apply this comparative
ligible. As in figure 1, there are several mor- could, for they are not the shadow phantoms method also on a landscape level. For exam-
phological trajectories that intersect. For in- of vain imagination, but possess an inner ple, in the central Arizona highlands, the as-
stance, note how leaf size expands then con- necessity and truth (from Goethe’s Italian pen (Populus tremuloides; Salicaceae) is a
tracts, or how leaf shape becomes less dif- Journey, in Brady 1987, p. 268). familiar and striking tree. It has a thin, tall,
ferentiated and then more complex, or how straight appearance, its branches extending
the relative length of the petiole (leaf stalk) If we direct our attention toward see- from the upper trunk (fig. 4a, next page). Its
at one point begins to shorten. Regarding the ing the botanical structures clearly in all bark is white and even rubs off like talcum
contraction of leaf size toward the apex of their detail, and seeing betweenness not as powder. The individual leaves flutter with
the stem, one observes that the final leaves an intellectual abstraction or as an empty the slightest breeze (hence the Latin species
seem to disappear from space; they become void but as a dynamic reality, then we ap- name) and, in the autumn, turn a stunning
insubstantial so that a new metamorphic im- proach what can be considered the organiz- gold before dropping. One can regard the as-
pulse can come into being, that of the ing principle and the dynamic wholeness of pen as having an open “sensitivity” to its
flower. the plant. Bortoft (1996, pp. 240–241) de- surroundings: the trembling leaves, the thin
scribes this experience; note how the dis- bark, the dramatic seasonal change of ap-
ased on the preceding, one needs to re- tinction between subject and object, ob-
B gard the space between the leaves— server and observed, simultaneously
what I will call “betweenness”—as a crucial unites/dissolves:
pearance, and the delicate, fuzzy catkins.
More than many temperate tree species, the
architecture of the aspen resembles a neuron
aspect of the wholeness of the phenomenon. complete with axon and dendrites (fig. 4b).
Just as in the structure of a musical melody The organizing principle of the phenomenon In striking contrast, the alligator juni-
the intervals are equally as important as the itself, which is its intrinsic necessity, comes per (Juniperus deppeana; Cupressaceae),
notes, experiencing betweenness among the into expression in the activity of thinking found mostly at lower elevations than the
parts of an organism—a plant, in this case— when this consists in trying to think the phe- aspen but overlapping in some areas, exhib-
is the key to finding wholeness, or meaning, nomenon concretely. What is experienced is its a rounded, enclosing crown, in which
in the phenomenon. Brady (1998) referred dense clumps of needles sway together

(or not necessarily related) organ- Holdrege, C. 2013. Thinking Like a Plant.
isms. One ground-breaking work is Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne
biologist Wolfgang Schad’s study of Books.
the entire class of mammals (Schad Lockley, M. G. 2008. The Morphodynamics
1977, 2012; Riegner 1998). Echoing of Dinosaurs, Other Archosaurs, and
Goethe’s archetypal plant, Schad’s Their Trackways. In R. Bromley & R.
exhaustive observations uncover the Melchor, eds., Ichnology at the Cross-
interweaving of morphological tra- roads, pp. 27–51. Society of Economic
jectories that reiterate in various con- Paleontologists and Mineralogists Special
figurations in different species of Publication 88.
mammals. Inspired by Schad’s con- Miller, D. E., ed. 1988. Goethe: Scientific
tribution, researchers have used his Studies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univer-
approach to investigate morphologi- sity Press.
cal patterns in dinosaurs (Lockley Riegner, M. F. 1998. Horns, Hooves, Spots,
2008), birds (Riegner 2008), and gen- and Stripes: Form and Pattern in Mam-
eral patterns of evolution (Rosslen- mals. In D. Seamon, & A. Zajonc, eds.,
broich 2014). Goethe's Way of Science, pp. 177–212.
These journeys into whole-or- Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
ganism biology are just a beginning. Riegner, M. F. 2008. Parallel Evolution of
In time, as more studies demonstrate Plumage Pattern and Coloration in Birds:
the value of a phenomenological ap- Implications for Defining Avian Mor-
proach, a metamorphosis of the sci- phospace. Condor 110: 599-614.
when a strong breeze moves through the tree ences themselves may lead to new explora- Riegner, M. F. 2013. Ancestor of the New
(fig. 4c). The bark, from which the tree gets tions of the dynamics of wholeness in na- Archetypal Biology: Goethe’s Dynamic
its common name, is remarkably thick and ture. Typology as a Model for Contemporary
deeply furrowed (fig. 4d). As a conifer, the Evolutionary Developmental Biology.
juniper is evergreen and shows little change References Studies in History and Philosophy of Bio-
in appearance through the seasons, thus a Amrine, F., Zucker F., & Wheeler, H., eds. logical and Biomedical Sciences 44: 735–
relative lack of sensitivity to its surround- 1987. Goethe and the Sciences. Boston, 744.
ings. Like the tree itself, its fruits are spher- MA: D. Reidel. Rosslenbroich, B. 2014. On the Origin of
ical, fleshy berries relished by wildlife. Bortoft, H. 1996. The Wholeness of Nature. Autonomy. NY: Springer.
In comparing the aspen and alligator Hudson, NY: Lindesfarne Press. Schad, W. 1967. Zur Biologie der Gestalt
juniper, one notes that they are morphologi- Bortoft, H. 2012. Taking Appearance Seri- der Mitteleuropäischen Buchen-
cal polarities; once these endpoints are ously. Edinburgh, UK: Floris Books. verwandten Bäume (Fagales). Elemente
identified, a context is provided to examine Brady, R. H. 1987. Form and Cause in Goe- der Naturwissenschaft 7: 11–24 [Toward
other local trees with “intermediate” forms. the's Morphology. In F. Amrine, F. a Biology of Form: Central European
For example, the ponderosa pine (Pinus Zucker, & H. Wheeler, eds., Goethe and Trees of the Beech Order (Fagales)].
ponderosa; Pinaceae), another conifer, with the Sciences, pp. 257–300. Boston, MA: Schad, W. 1977. Man and Mammals: To-
its less dense, more airy structure and flaky, D. Reidel Publishing Co. ward a Biology of Form. Garden City,
even sweet-smelling, bark, exhibits a more Brady, R. H. 1998. The Idea in Nature: Re- NY: Waldorf Press.
open architecture than the “self-enclosed” reading Goethe’s Organics. In D. Seamon Schad, W. 2012. Säugetiere und Mensch, 2
alligator juniper, while the emory oak & A. Zajonc, eds., Goethe's Way of Sci- bӓnde. Stuttgart: Verlag Freies
(Quercus emoryi; Fagaceae), with its partly ence, pp. 83–111. Albany, New York: Geistesleben, [English translation in
stunted, twisted architecture, thick, grooved SUNY Press. prep.].
bark, and stiff, contracted leaves, also stands Goethe, J. W. von. 1790. The Metamorpho- Seamon, D., & Zajonc, A., eds. 1998. Goe-
between the juniper and the aspen but leans sis of Plants [photographs by G. L. Mil- the’s Way of Science. Albany, NY: SUNY
somewhat closer to the former. Just as the ler]. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009. Press.
leaf sequence of an annual plant creates a Holdrege, C. 1998. Seeing the Animal
context for envisioning potential leaves, so Whole: The Example of the Horse and Figures: 1. Sequence of oval shapes; 2. Hel-
a careful comparison of forest trees offers a Lion. In D. Seamon & A. Zajonc, eds., iconia plant showing transition (“metamor-
descriptive means to situate particular spe- Goethe's Way of Science, pp. 213–232. phosis”) between leaf and bract; 3. Leaves
cies in a web of morphological relationships Albany, NY: SUNY Press. and flowers of ragleaf bahia; note the met-
(Schad 1967). Holdrege, C. 1999. What Does it Mean to be amorphosis; 4a. Aspen tree in autumn col-
a Sloth? NetFuture [on-line journal], no. ors; 4b. aspen architecture’s resemblance

T he search for betweenness via the Goe-

thean tradition can be extended further
to examine an entire group of closely related
97 (Nov. 3); article available at: www.na-
tureinstitute.org/nature/sloth.htm [last ac-
cessed July 2, 2014].
to a neuron, with axon and dendrites; 4c. al-
ligator juniper; 4d. detail of alligator juni-
per bark.

A Phenomenology with the Natural World
Tim Ingold
Ingold is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom. His books include The Life of Lines
(Routledge, forthcoming, 2015); Making: Anthropology, Archeology, Art and Architecture (Routledge, 2013); and Being Alive: Es-
says on Movement, Knowledge and Description (Routledge, 2011). tim.ingold@abdn.ac.uk. © 2014 Tim Ingold.

P henomenology has not, for me, been

a point of departure. I have never
thought of it as an approach, method,
or way of working that I might apply. Like
most things philosophical, it has grown on
learn from our interlocutors, we anthropolo-
gists have a nasty habit of turning lessons
learned into material for analysis. This is
what happens when we say that what we are
actually doing is ethnography. It is like turn-
failed to notice how both we and they go
along together in the current of time. This,
surely, is what sustainability means: not the
perpetuation of a completed form or stable
state but the capacity to keep going, to carry
me more or less serendipitously and has ing the telescope to look through the wrong on, or to perdure. If interaction is about oth-
wormed its way into my thinking without end. Instead of calling on the experience we ering, then correspondence is about togeth-
my really noticing it. have shared with those among whom we ering. It is about the ways along which lives,
No doubt, this home-grown phenome- have worked to enlarge our vision of the in their perpetual unfolding or becoming,
nology takes all kinds of liberties with the world, we take our sights from the Olym- answer to one another.
canonical texts, many of which I am happy pian heights of theory to scrutinize the This shift from interaction to corre-
to leave unread. Textual exegesis is a task thinking of our erstwhile teachers. spondence entails a fundamental reorienta-
for trained philosophers and not for ama- The source of the problem, I believe, tion, from the between-ness of beings and
teurs like me. I have always been slightly lies with that little word of. I have long held things to their in-between-ness. Think of a
bemused by scholars who bury their heads doubts about the fundamental postulate of river and its banks. We might speak of the
in the most arcane and impenetrable of texts phenomenology, namely that consciousness relation of one bank to the other, and cross-
in the effort, they explain, to get to the bot- must always be consciousness of, precisely ing a bridge, we might find ourselves half-
tom of our experience as beings in a world. because it puts the telescope the wrong way way between the two. But the banks are con-
You would think that the best way to fathom round. Likewise, when we invoke the phe- tinually being formed and reformed by the
the depths of human experience would be to nomenology or the anthropology of this or waters of the river as they sweep by. These
attend to the world itself and to learn di- that, it seems that we run rings around the waters flow in between the banks, along a
rectly from what it has to tell us. thing in question, turning the places or the line orthogonal to the span of the bridge.
This, of course, is what inhabitants do paths from which we observe into circum- To say of beings and things that they
all the time, in their daily lives, and they scribed topics of inquiry. are in-between is to align our awareness
have much to teach us. That’s why I remain, The operative word, I think, should not with the waters; to correspond with them is
both by training and at heart, an anthropolo- be of but with. I would start from the postu- to join this awareness with the flow. Just
gist and not a philosopher. If we are to begin late, then, that consciousness is always con- such a shift of orientation is needed, I be-
to resolve the crisis in our relations with sciousness with, before it is ever conscious- lieve, if we are to understand the world of
what we call the “natural world,” then we ness of. Whereas ‘of-ness’ is intentional, nature as one that we do not only experience
should be listening to the wisdom of its in- ‘with-ness’, I would argue, is attentional. but can also live with or inhabit both now
habitants, both human and non-human, ra- And what it sets up are relations not of in- and for the foreseeable future.
ther than taking shelter in the closeted self- tersubjectivity but correspondence.
referentiality of philosophical discourse.

N evertheless, in much the same way as

phenomenology, anthropology strug-
T he problem in our relations with the nat-
ural world, then, is that we have forgot-
ten how to correspond with the beings and
gles with what looks like a mismatch be- things of which it is comprised. We have
tween ethical principle and scholarly prac- been so concerned with the interaction be-
tice. For while claiming to study with and to tween ourselves and others that we have

Evolving Conceptions of
Environmental Phenomenology
Bryan E. Bannon
Bannon is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Environmental Studies at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mas-
sachusetts. He is the author of From Mastery to Mystery: a Phenomenological Foundation for an Environmental Ethic (Ohio Univ.
Press, 2014). bannonb@merrimack.edu. © 2014 Bryan E. Bannon.

iven the centrality of the concept of world they advocate and how that concep- as well as through complex interper-
nature within phenomenological in- tion both jibes with phenomenological goals sonal and institutional networks;
quiry, it should be no surprise that and requires the reformation of certain phe-  Coming to terms with the less adversar-
many philosophers have turned to that phil- nomenological principles. Take, for exam- ial understanding of technology and the
osophical tradition to address environmen- ple, the case of Latour. While he explicitly sciences that accompanies the attribu-
tal issues. In addition to the conceptual in- rejects the category of nature, distancing tion of agency and experience to things
sights phenomenology has offered, the himself from the traditional phenomenolo- in the world.
method’s emphasis on experience has con- gists such as Husserl and Merleau-Ponty,
tributed to creating space for a diversity of throughout his work one finds the same mo- This list is intended neither to be ex-
voices that might not otherwise be heard tivation that inspires all phenomenologists: haustive nor to imply that there are not con-
within the philosophical community. a return to experience as the foundation of temporary phenomenologists already atten-
To my mind, however, the most im- philosophical inquiry. tive to these issues. Rather, it is meant to
portant contribution phenomenology has What is interesting is how the two ap- give a sense of how phenomenology might
made to environmentalism is the reminder proaches diverge depending on whether one adapt and expand to include insights not
that the philosophical questions relating to begins, as in most varieties of phenomenol- only from contemporary philosophers but
nature are not merely conceptual puzzles but ogy, with lived experience or, as with Latour now more established lines of critique as
emerge from both our personal and collec- and many of the new materialisms, with an found in the work of, for example, Foucault
tive connection to and affection for the asubjective conception of experience. The and Deleuze.
world in which we live. former, as Heidegger had already noted The ways in which these adaptations
Even as phenomenologists have writ- nearly a century ago, is yet another manifes- might enrich the phenomenological project
ten about, among other themes, the human tation of modernity’s dualistic subject-ob- are also myriad. For one, consider the vari-
relationship to the environment and animal ject metaphysics. If the Heideggerian and ous phenomenologies possible once nonhu-
life, the narratives that shape that relation- Latourian rejection of lived experience is an mans are acknowledged to have a form of
ship, and the constitution and value of apt one, phenomenologists might learn from subjectivity proper to them! Rather than
places, valid and important criticisms have these new materialisms a new starting point endless debates about whether animals
emerged regarding various elements of phe- that complicates our inquiries and enriches “have” consciousness or reason, the discus-
nomenological method. These have in- our findings. sion shifts to how diverse forms of life dis-
cluded a perceived anthropocentrism, a less play a rationality proper to them by con-
than adequate conception of materiality, and
a persistent, unacknowledged subjectivism.
While in some cases the charges are
I n terms of these complications, there are
several methodological issues with which
phenomenologically-minded environmental
structing a world of relations for themselves
through whatever means are available to
them cognitively and environmentally.
somewhat overblown, what these criticisms philosophers must reckon: Though the potential for making phenome-
reveal is the need for phenomenology to nological errors increases, by engaging with
evolve and adapt as a method so as to meet  Acknowledging that human experience other forms of animal life in this way we
current challenges, particularly those posed is one kind of experience among many may be able to envision better ways to con-
by the environment. Specifically, chal- and thereby recognizing that human ex- struct a human world more inclusive of our
lenges deriving from new materialisms perience cannot be a foundation for fellow non-human beings.
(e.g., Karen Barad, Isabelle Stengers, and generalizable claims about the environ- Including specific technological and
Bruno Latour) need to be addressed for phe- ment; institutional analyses as a part of our think-
nomenology to retain its relevance.  Understanding subjectivity as a com- ing about the human relationship to nature
The particular force behind these plex network of relations formed both
views stems from the conception of the through complex biological networks

can shed light on the psychological and so-  On one hand, a perspective associated about embodiment and the question of novel
cial obstacles to adopting a more environ- with the organismic conception of na- ecosystems. While there may contemporar-
mentally friendly lifestyle: ture in which there is an inherent order ily be good prudential and political reasons
 How does a certain technique affect our to an ecological system that must be to maintain reservations about the creation
view of other beings? maintained; of such systems, on a relational conception
 How could reorganizing a specific so-  On the other hand, a perspective asso- of nature there is no way to reject their es-
cial arrangement lead to a more sustain- ciated with the relational conception in tablishment out-of-hand and without discus-
able way of interacting with each other which the order present in ecological sion. If there is no one way that nature is
and with the earth? systems is largely contingent. In this meant to be, no one order that must be pre-
 How might we reconsider the notion of latter view, organisms do not possess served, what obstacles are there to establish-
community to include both animate and ecological niches but they create them, ing new biotic communities? In this way,
inanimate aspects of the environment? and environments are largely a result of humans may take a more active hand in
the creative activity of organisms and shaping ecological communities in a man-
Again, these questions have not neces- the geological forces of the earth. ner similar to what Steven Vogel called the
sarily been ignored, but the decentering of “social construction of the environment.”
the human in phenomenological research While I have been emphasizing the need for We do not, however, need to restrict
may yield new findings. phenomenology to change, there are also ourselves to what is best for human beings
myriad ways in which the insights of the in making these choices. Rather, we might
aim for, as Karen Barad puts it, “making a
A s one example, consider some of the phenomenological tradition can be helpful
ways in which many phenomenolo- to philosophers endorsing new material-
gists consider the concept of nature: follow- isms. For example, Martin Drenthen and
better world, a livable world, a world based
on values of co-flourishing and mutuality,
ing Husserl, as an idealized and mathema- John van Buren have both pointed out ways not fighting and diminishing one another,
tized object, derived from the personalistic in which hermeneutic methods might be em- not closing one another down, but helping to
attitude, correlative to an intentional con- ployed to address environmental problem- open up our ideas and ourselves to each
sciousness or, following philosophers like solving, both in terms of eliminating disa- other and to new possibilities, which with
Hans Jonas and David Abram, as itself an greement and opening up possibilities for any luck will have the potential to help us
organism and a subject. interpreting exactly what the problems are see our way through to a world that is more
While the latter serves to counteract that we face. livable, not for some, but for the entangled
the kinds of excesses environmentalists Another possible contribution derives wellbeing of all” [1].
have identified with the modernistic con- from the history of phenomenological en- Setting some of these ideals as our
ception of nature (and Husserl himself was gagement with science and technology. goals, it is necessary to think through the ef-
critical of those tendencies as well in The Given the similarities between phenomenol- fects on others’ embodiment, including the
Crisis of the European Sciences and Tran- ogists’ and new materialists’ criticisms of nonhuman and perhaps even the nonliving,
scendental Phenomenology), the under- the modern scientific worldview, new mate- in order to realize them. In this way, our en-
standing of nature as a subject or an organ- rialisms would be remiss to dismiss phe- riched phenomenological insights might
ism still utilizes the same fundamental met- nomenological critique as mere doom and give new meaning to Aldo Leopold’s in-
aphysical categories to understand the world gloom or overly romantic and pessimistic. junction to “think like a mountain.”
as the modernistic conception of nature, that In many cases, phenomenological concerns Theoretical constructs, like species,
of subjects and objects. can serve as a useful guardrail against slip- need to evolve to survive. At this point in
If the new materialisms mentioned ping back into the technological excesses of history, phenomenology faces both philo-
above have any consistent view between modernity. sophical and institutional pressures to do so.
them shared with phenomenologists, it is Last, phenomenologists’ emphasis on To meet these pressures, I will humbly make
that the subject-object metaphysics must be the ineliminable affective dimension to ex- one final recommendation pertaining to our
abandoned. Perhaps what we learn from perience can continue to have an important style of writing. Currently, so-called “conti-
their criticisms is that phenomenology has role in decision-making regarding the de- nental” approaches to the environment tend
not been as thorough as it could be in ex- sign of places, especially if the material to base themselves in dense exposition of
punging these ghosts of modernity. Rather world is more affectively sensitive than pre- texts. While these can be useful to fellow
than considering nature as a being that pos- viously given credit for. scholars and have value in terms of clarify-
sesses inherent properties in need of preser- ing the views of historical philosophers, the
vation, we might move toward a more rela- approach allows others who are unfamiliar
tional conception of nature. Essentially, this S o, if this alliance of phenomenology and
new forms of materialism is possible,
shift amounts to a choice between two con- the question remains of what kinds of
with (or perhaps averse to) the ideas of the
philosophers under consideration to ignore
trasting conceptions of networks: changes in practice and inquiry become pos- our work. If we were more open to address-
sible on that basis. To explore this question, ing the currently prevalent ideas in environ-
consider the interplay between concerns mental philosophy more generally in lan-

guage that is not specific to particular phi- hope we rise to these challenges. What the us from some of the major theoretical im-
losophers, this would make our work more phenomenological philosophy that emerges passes of the twentieth century.
difficult to ghettoize and to ignore. Philoso-from these trials has in common with a phi-
phers like Ingrid Stefanovic and Irene losophy like Stengers’ “ecology of prac- Note
Klaver might serve as models in this regard. tices” remains to be determined. But we 1. Karen Barad, “Erasers and Erasures:
should be encouraged both by the continuity Pinch’s Unfortunate ‘Uncertainty Princi-
G iven the positive contributions the phe- of concerns between them as well as the po-
nomenological method has made and tential such affiliations have for removing
could make to environmental philosophy, I
ple’,” Social Studies of Science 41: 450.

Place Making, Phenomenology, and

Lived Sustainability
John Cameron
Retired environmental educator John Cameron lives on Bruny Island, just off the southeastern coast of Tasmania, the island state
south of mainland Australia. His nine “Letters from Far South” have appeared in EAP, winter and fall 2008; spring 2009; winter
and fall 2010; spring 2011; winter and fall 2012; and spring 2014. jcameronblackstone@gmail.com. © 2014 John Cameron.

fter years of full-time environmen- was an odd juxtaposition between the inti- me to a depth of communication and com-
tal advocacy followed by an aca- macy of the space created by the “hair” munion with elements of the natural world
demic career teaching place phe- hanging down to the ground, the breath of that I had previously not experienced.
nomenology and supervising students in the breeze, and the harshness of the snake-
phenomenological and other qualitative re-
search methods, I immersed myself in re-
tirement in place making on Bruny Island,
like “skin” seared black. From within the fi-
brous cave beneath the grasstree, I could
imagine the movement of the plant drawing
B y virtue of our choice to produce our
own electricity, rely on rainwater, have
composting toilets, and grow some of our
Tasmania. nutrients from the earth upward, meeting own produce, I could write more directly
Through publishing nine of my essays fire and producing such delicate elongated about what it was like to live more sustaina-
in EAP, David Seamon has generously pro- leaves that they seemed to be merging into bly. Here the power of phenomenology in
vided me with the opportunity to explore the air. This motion brought me closer to a constantly focusing on the experience itself,
questions relating to place, phenomenology, sense of what the gesture of the grasstree rather than theories or ideas about sustaina-
and environmental concerns. In the spirit of might be [1]. bility, showed itself. On some occasions,
giving voice to place that has infused my producing our own power was energizing
‘Letters from Far South,” I leaven my com- Undertaking Goethean science offered and affirming:
mentary with brief accounts of some of the a stance of openness toward the natural
encounters my partner Vicki and I have had world, an attitude of receptivity through in- One spring afternoon I was striding down
with the more-than-human world of “Black- tuitive sensing. It also raised many ques- toward the house with a bracing wind blow-
stone,” our 55 acres of land on the island. tions of practice. It took many hours over a ing straight off the Channel into my face and
long period of sitting, drawing, intuiting, the sun glinting off the water into my eyes. I
and writing to gain even a simplified under- exulted in the strength of the elements and
T he experience of place making became
more intertwined with phenomenologi-
cal perspectives and practices as our time on
standing of particular plants and rocks from lengthened my stride. “It’s a high energy
a Goethean perspective. In addition, there day today,” I declared to Vicki, and we en-
Bruny progressed. As various phenomena— are limitations to the broader applicability of joyed the new layer of meaning that term
for example, the form of a sandstone rock this approach. It requires a commitment that now had for us [2].
shelf or the charred trunk of a grasstree— many people, even sympathetic observers,
seized my attention, I drew on Goethean sci- would lack the time and inclination to make. On other occasions, it proved to be
ence, a proto-phenomenological practice, to In the latter stages of the process I used, the more psychologically challenging than I had
explore them more deeply: understandings were fleeting and numi- imagined:
nous—not easily transferable to everyday Behind my wry self-description of being
I was drawn to sit much closer, into the en- perception despite their emotional power at “technically challenged” lay a psychologi-
closure of the fallen leaves, and the universe the time. Their main effect has been to open cally slippery slope. I quickly had to over-
did indeed become suddenly compact. There

come my fear of approaching any unfamil- equal was a different matter altogether. One became important while spraying, for exam-
iar machine without an expert by my side, as of the turning points was direct engagement ple.
all the “experts” were in Hobart and reluc- with the eagles: In what is almost a paradox, I’ve be-
tant to make the ferry journey to Bruny. come more actively receptive and recep-
Technical instructions from Simply Solar by The eagle has hovered above my head on tively active in my approach. Susan Mur-
phone about our declining batteries often several occasions since, and each time I phy’s dictum “accept all offers” as applied
left me puzzled and, at worst, in confused have met her fierce gaze as directly as I can. to invitations to pay attention by the more-
desperation. I re-experienced boyhood anx- My pulse still races and the skin on the back than-human-world has become a guiding
ieties about my lack of practical aptitude of my neck still tingles as I hold all possibil- principle: “What deeper experience am I be-
and common sense [3]. ities for the encounter open. It’s another ing offered by the natural world in this mo-
shift in attention, I realize. I’m so accus- ment? How do I respond?” [9]. Perhaps this
Another aspect of our environmental tomed to being the one who is checking is an inevitable aspect of the phenomenolog-
ethos was our desire to re-vegetate our de- things out that it’s odd to let myself be the ical endeavor—a prolonged inquiry into any
graded sheep paddocks and provide sanctu- object of a large wild creature’s curiosity phenomenon changes both the experience
ary for endangered and other wildlife. Our when she is clearly unafraid of me. The ea- and one’s capacity to experience.
experience was a far cry from the gradual gle is calling the shots, not me; she decides The process of chronicling what has
deepening of relationship implied by advo- how long she will remain poised over my occurred at Blackstone became an integral
cates of ecological restoration with phrases head [6]. part of life, but it quickly became insuffi-
such as “restoring the land, healing the cient simply to narrate events. As research-
mind” [4]. The neighboring grazier pre-
dicted angrily that our land would be a
bloody mess if we removed his sheep.
I t was a similar story with an embodied ers such as van Manen have emphasized, an
sense of place. One of my favored topics essential part of producing a phenomeno-
when teaching place phenomenology was logical account is rewriting, seeking always
We planted 4,000 native trees, shrubs, Merleau-Ponty’s notion of body-subject [7]. to cleave to the experience itself [10]. “Is
and plugs of native grasses. We sprayed It predisposed me toward explorations in that actually what happened?” and “What
thistles. In some seasons, the place did look body sensing through Goethean science and was it really like, as opposed to what I think
a “bloody mess,” and I felt like one, too, more generally in everyday life. it should be like” became constant questions
veering erratically between despondency The notion of the inseparability of per- and frequently exposed how I embellished
and elation as the trees grew, but weeds and son and world rolls easily off the tongue and my accounts. I’d argue that my best writing
pests proliferated. pen, but when I felt it physically, I was dis- involved a lived reciprocity between experi-
There is value in a phenomenological concerted. For example, one day while encing and describing: the more I honed my
account of such processes, if only to provide floating on my back in Blackstone Bay, I writing, the closer attention I paid to my ex-
a salutary tale for those who undertake land distinctly sensed an unspoken “conversa- perience, the richer my life became, thus
regeneration, as we did, with more idealism tion” between my body and the enclosing providing more useful material for reflec-
than expertise, and to those who glibly ad- water [8]. In retrospect, I realize I was un- tion and further writing.
vocate tree planting as a panacea. In the end, settled because I felt that the water was not
only alive but was in some sort of mysteri-
though, I was able to write:

I do have the strong sense that as the birds

ous communication directly through my I have often struggled to communicate
what I have learned on Blackstone in a
skin beyond my conscious understanding or way that is helpful for environmental action,
in the fields check out our planted trees, the control. Body and brine were somehow in- even when there was a shared ethos:
ladybirds and skinks take refuge in the tree terpenetrating, so that one of the primary
guards, and some self-sown eucalypts begin boundaries of what I consider myself to be I drove away from the meeting on local cli-
to appear now the sheep have left, we are was dissolving. In less dramatic ways, I’ve mate change with mixed feelings. It had
working in partnership with the regenera- often felt discomfited on Blackstone when been a stimulating event, but I was troubled
tive forces of the land [5]. the very experience of deeper connection by absence of any mention of non-human
with other species or elements of place that life. It was of course implicit in the motiva-
Spending each morning up in the pad- I’ve been reading about and wanting to hap- tion for action on climate change. I knew
docks gave me the opportunity for encoun- pen actually occurs. that many of our colleagues shared our con-
tering more of the wildlife. Our lived envi- I came to realize that lived experience cern over the already visible effect of warm-
ronmental ethic has evolved during our time isn’t just the sum of what happens to a per- ing on the Bruny environments and its non-
on Bruny. An attitude of care and respect for son. Under the influence of the phenomeno- human inhabitants. Part of what I had been
wildlife grew into recognition of the agency logical gaze, as it were, human experiencing learning on Blackstone, though, was that
and creative presence of other species. At itself becomes a more active process. The human actions are best undertaken in part-
university, I had taught students about moral question of attention engaged my mind. The nership with natural forces, and a place will
considerability and the rights of other spe- quality of attention as well as the objects of make it clear what needs to be done if one is
cies, but confronting the power and fierce attention—thistles, marker points, back and quietly attentive to it. It is inextricably part
gaze of a flesh-and-blood-and-feathers shoulder muscles, and thought processes—

of daily life, extending well beyond ques- place relationships reinvigorates local com- 5. Letter from Far South 6. Environmental
tions of general motivation. “It’s not just all munities and leads to a wide range of social, and Architectural Phenomenology, 22, 2
about people,” I muttered to myself [11]. political, and environmental actions in de- (2011): 17.
fense of place. Place-based education coun- 6. Ibid., p. 16.
There is no shortage of advocates for teracts alienation and disconnection from 7. M. Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of
bringing a place-oriented perspective to the rest of life with which humans share the Perception (London: Routledge, 1962).
bear on local responses to environmental planet. It provides the basis for a more 8. Letter from Far South 9. Environmental
challenges such as climate change. Geogra- meaningful, productive, expressive, and and Architectural Phenomenology, 25, 2
pher Edward Relph calls for a “pragmatic grounded life. (2014): 22–23.
sense of place,” bringing the voices of local Do the “sacred” and the “holy” have a 9. S. Murphy, Upside-Down Zen (Mel-
knowledge and experience into dialogue role in caring for the natural world? My bourne: Lothian Books, 2004).
while avoiding the pathologies of place, ideas about spirituality, place, and the sa- 10. M. van Manen, Researching Lived Ex-
considering alternatives and consequences, cred are changing as a result of our time on perience (Albany, NY: SUNY Press,
and reaching “imperfect but workable Blackstone. Our attempt to provide sanctu- 1990); M. van Manen, Phenomenology
agreements” for courses of action [12]. ary for wildlife means more than providing of Practice (Walnut Creek, CA: Left
The difficulty is partly one of lan- physical refuge as the original meaning of Coast Press, 2014).
guage. For example, discussions about cli- the word as a holy place infers [15]. All be- 11. Excerpted from Letter from Far South
mate change, energy, and land use are usu- ings, animate and inanimate, are worthy of 11, Environmental and Architectural
ally couched in terms of political feasibility reverence. Simone Weil’s contention that Phenomenology, forthcoming, 2015.
and economic costs and benefits. In con- heartfelt attention is a form of prayer reso- 12. E. Relph, T., 2008, A Pragmatic Sense
trast, the language of place affiliation is po- nates strongly with me [16]. The choice to of Place, in Making Sense of Place, F.
etic and evocative, more rooted in the adopt an attentive attitude toward all forms Vanclay, M. Higgins, & A. Blackshaw,
soundscape of the place itself. When I’ve at- of the sentient world in which we are im- eds. (Canberra: National Museum of
tempted to bring in the perspectives and mersed is ultimately a spiritual one: Australia Press, 2008); reprinted in En-
value of other species, I’ve failed to stimu- vironmental and Architectural Phenom-
late anything approaching dialogue. One evening last month, as the setting sun enology, 20, 3 (2009): 24–31.
More fundamentally, environmental turned the rock pools into burnished mirrors 13. V. Plumwood, Environmental Culture
philosopher Val Plumwood contends that and filled the sandstone caves with honeyed (Lndon: Routledge, 2012). Far from any
we won’t deal effectively with environmen- light, I was stopped in my tracks by the still- naïve “talk with the animals” suggestion,
tal crises until we have a place-sensitive so- ness. Feeling weak-kneed, I put down the Plumwood’s notion of interspecies dia-
ciety in which the dominant institutions of oysters I had collected and sank onto a logue is highly sophisticated, based in
labor and property take place relations seri- nearby mushroom-shaped rock. Spontane- the combination of decades of ecophilo-
ously rather than reducing land to a real es- ously, I broke into a Buddhist chant. As my sophical inquiry and a lifetime’s experi-
tate commodity. Further, she argues that we voice reverberated in the sandstone hollows ence of living on her own in a biodiverse
must develop the capacity to enter into dia- and traversed the still waters, I felt I was environment.
logical relationships with “earth others” singing out a heartfelt thank you to the 14. In addition to the phased process of Goe-
[13]. rocks, waters, and mountains of the Chan- thean science I have employed, there are
I am sympathetic to this view and offer nel, in gratitude for their simply being there possibilities such as Shotter’s suggestion
tools for such an undertaking provided by [17]. of “withness action” (J. Shotter, Goethe
phenomenology and Goethean science [14]. and the Refiguring of Intellectual In-
If, however, human-human communication Notes quiry, Janus Head 8, 1 [2005]: 132–58).
over climate change is so difficult, the pro- 1. J. Cameron, Letter from Far South 5, En- 15. According to the Oxford English Dic-
spect of including other species in dialogue, vironmental and Architectural Phenom- tionary, the root word is the Latin “sanc-
however that is conceived, seems remote in- enology, 21, 3 (2010): 17. tus,” meaning holy.
deed. 2.J. Cameron, Letter from Far South 4. En- 16. S. Weil, Attention and Will, in Gravity
vironmental and Architectural Phenom- and Grace (London: Routledge and
enology, 21, 1 (2010): 16. Kegan Paul, 1952).

N otwithstanding these many difficulties, 3. Ibid.

I believe that movement toward a more 4. This phrase is the subtitle of T. Roszak,
place-responsive culture is a worthy under- M. Gomes, & A. Kanner, eds., Ecopsy-
17. Letter from Far South 8, Environmental
and Architectural Phenomenology, 23, 2
(2012): 21.
taking for a variety of reasons. Place-based chology: Restoring the Earth, Healing
education is richer and more locally relevant the Mind (San Francisco: Sierra Club
for students. A greater emphasis on local Books, 1995).

Social Space and Daily Commuting
Phenomenological Implications
Lena Hopsch
Hopsch, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.
hopsch@chalmers.se. Text and photographs © 2014 Lena Hopsch.

E ncouraging use of public transit is

one important way to reduce energy
consumption and counter climate
change. In my research on the design of
Swedish travel centers, I have studied the
(Hopsch et al. 2014). Phenomenology of-
fers an innovative way to address issues of
security, orientation, climate, and beauty,
especially in relation to contemporary
“placeless” environments with considerable
“hermeneutical spiral” of progressive inter-
pretive discovery whereby perspectives are
widened and knowledge is deepened [2].
One result was new design methods and
tools that can be used to identify innovative
transit stations for the planned “West Link,” potential for alienation. spatial qualities to strengthen environmental
an underground railway tunnel through A phenomenological approach is also encounter. A deeper knowledge of urban
Gothenburg that will increase the capacity valuable because spatial planning today in- spatial form in an embodied context created
for commuter traffic. volves large-scale digital representation. To a starting point for working with new as-
My method is phenomenological; one understand lived space, however, human be- pects in the design of space for public trans-
result is an interactive questionnaire that ings must encounter it via bodily presence. portation.
works as a dialog tool for identifying “soft” To gain a more thorough knowledge of this This focus on sensory dimensions of
spatial qualities that might have value for lived attunement to space, our research the urban-transit experience provided a
collaborative planning processes. I ask how group used group discussion and explora- point of common reference that allowed par-
one might design public-transport spaces tive workshops to investigate specific as- ticipants to consider the experiential nature
that incorporate safety, comfort, unambigu- pects of spatiality and movement in urban of transit design. Participants came to rec-
ous orientation, and aesthetic values. A thor- traffic space. Participants in these work- ognize the importance of a multisensory fo-
ough answer to this question might help de- shops included researchers, practitioners, cus, including the significance of haptic ex-
signers and planners to create more sustain- and potential users. perience. Participants gained a deeper sense
able, user-friendly urban spaces. In the first stage of our research, we of empathy—in other words, how to “feel
developed tools to identify and describe into things” and thereby incorporate affec-

T he French philosopher Merleau-Ponty

(2002) argued that human beings did
not receive sensory impressions passively.
environmental qualities that might inte-
grate urban public transit with urban
space. These tools were used in the early
tive dimensions of transit experience.
Considering peoples’ bodily and
sensory experiences of urban space con-
Perception, he claimed, is active. Via a di- planning process. Researchers and practi- tributes to designing public transport in a
rect, pre-reflective awareness, we stretch tioners were involved in a series of dialog more user-friendly way. One central goal
ourselves into the world. Drawing on his seminars to understand how to identify is contributing ideas for designing public
work, I have developed a research method and notate taken-for-granted lived quali- places with a multivalent sense of mean-
that I call “spatial-sensory analysis” [1]. ties and actions often regarded as “tacit ing. A phenomenological approach is a
The human sensory-motor system knowledge” (Hartelo & Mochizuki 2009; useful tool because it offers new ways to
plays a decisive role in perceiving and un- Hopsch et al. 2013). map out questions and to think in new
derstanding space (Hopsch 2008; Johnson ways. This knowledge might contribute to
2007; Merleau-Ponty 2002). One can speak
of spatial affordances or a spatiality of situ-
ation—i.e., the ways a certain space gives
T he West Link Project is an eight-kilo- urban design and planning that support ur-
meter, double-track rail system under banites’ choice of mass transit as a con-
the center of Gothenburg. This network will venient, pleasurable mode of travel.
possibilities for human action and interac- connect commuter rail services to city mass-
How we perceive is a theme for psy-
chology and cognitive science. Phenome-
transit routes. In spring, 2012, a collabora-
tion between The Swedish Transport Ad- M ore broadly, this collaborative study
indicated that the way human beings
ministration and Chalmers University pre- sensuously experience place and space can
nology offers a theoretical base for generat- pared a pilot study of the designs for several become the nucleus for interdisciplinary
ing architectural design that adequately ac- new West Link stations to be built as part of studies (Diaconu et al. 2011). Contemporary
counts for human movement and sensory the larger project. urban planning is a field of interconnected-
experiences as well as ethical concerns This collaboration drew on the model ness and relations; there is necessary a trans-
of a design research studio. The aim was a

disciplinary approach that bridges gaps be- 2. Other programs involved were Istanbul Hopsch, L., McCann, R., & Cesario, M.,
tween architecture, urban planning land- Technical University’s Department of Ar- 2013. The Body in Space: Promoting
scape architecture, and traffic planning. chitecture; Mississippi State University’s Sustainable Urban Transport, a paper
Questions developed within a complex School of Art and Design; and the Ecole presented at Crafting the Future, 10th Eu-
context require cooperation and mutual un- Nationale d'Architecture de Paris’s ropean Academy of Design Conference,
derstanding to achieve resilient results. This GERPHAU (Groupe d’études et de re- Gothenburg University.
process can contribute to innovative struc- cherche philosophie, architecture et ur- Hopsch , L., McCann, R., & Cesario, M.,
tures that facilitate people’s choices in bain). 2014. Traveling, Inhabiting, and Experi-
transit situations and so contribute to more encing: A Phenomenology for Public
sustainable urban development. References Transit, Environmental and Architec-
Diaconu, M., Heuberger, E., & Berr, M., tural Phenomenology, 25, 1 (winter): 9–
eds., 2011. Senses and the City (Berlin: 14.
Notes Lit Verlag). Johnson, M., 2007. The Meaning of the
1. The present study is supported by the Hartelo, P. & Mochizuki, T., 2009. Think- Body (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press).
Swedish Research Council FORMAS, in ing the City, in Architecture and Phe- Merleau-Ponty, M., 2002. Phenomenology
collaboration with the Swedish Transport nomenology (Kyoto: Seika University). of Perception (London: Routledge)
Administration. The broader focus of Hopsch, L., 2008. Rytmens estetik, formens [originally 1945].
which the current work is part is “Archi- kraft [The Aesthetics of Rhythm, the
tecture in Effect: Re-Thinking the Social Power of Form]. Diss. (Göteborg:
in Architecture.” Chalmers tekniska högskola).

Topologies of Illumination
Matthew S. Bower
Bower is a doctoral student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of North Texas. His research examines the themes of
nature and commodity in the writings of Walter Benjamin. matthew.s.bower@gmail.com. © 2014 Matthew S. Bower.

oogle recently offered early finding us all the more prone to sudden jolts the real. Wearing eyeglasses, for instance,
adopters of its Glass device a primer and spells of disorientation. But the rude af- suggests technical mediation of perception
on how not to seem “creepy or fectations of the smartphone user (which resulting in a refocused real that becomes
rude” while using the new technology in may only worsen as “wearables” and de- more real to us than our unadorned vision.
public. Sourced from firsthand experiences vices tailored to gestural response gain cur- The glasses become in their virtuality sec-
of the company’s “Glass Explorer” mem- rency) are more telling of discrepancies be- ond nature, once the weight is no longer felt
bers, the guide issues a warning against tween the habits and norms of a changing on the bridge of our nose and the frame’s
awkward social lapses caused by staring technological culture than of any failed ar- blur eventually lost, transfigured into an ex-
into the device’s prism for extended periods. chitectonic integration of the virtual. tension of our face (so much so that we feel
Digital interfaces often induce such imper- That one could now feasibly organize naked without them). Limits to the appa-
turbable trances as those in which her life as though the world were nothing ratus nonetheless appear, as Heidegger sug-
smartphone users already find themselves. more than a vast internet of data is a fact far gests, when things break down. With a sud-
The shopper, artist, and business executive from contingent upon any specific advance den jerking of the head or in the midst of an
now wear the distrait stare of a lone video in visual imaging. It speaks to our imagina- intimate embrace, the awkward presence of
gamer, each navigating this unsteady mer- tive submission to the virtual, even where our eyewear is reasserted.
ger of apparatus and environment. computer graphics fall short. The dream of But this does not prevent us from ex-
There is a vanishing separation of a “Second Life” is after all one of escapism. periencing visual clarity as a property be-
these “augmented” spaces—enhanced by There have always been sufficient, if ane- longing to the real. We imagine such lenses
applications, high-resolution mobile pho- mic, surrogates for the real, and the vam- as “corrective” of our own natural flaws in
tography, social networking, and the instan- piric body of the gamer, nourished in dark- relation to a measurable standard of human
taneity of information—from the built and ness on the glimmer of televisual feeds, physiology. In relation to other organisms,
designable forms through which everyday hardly needs convincing. other spectrums of light, there is no singular,
life has been traditionally lived. As Google correct way of seeing the real. Is an appa-
acknowledges, however, it is still an un-
canny separation, continually reasserted
upon exploring and feeling out its limits,
W e are inclined to imagine virtual real- ratus that filters the world through a search-
ity as a particular kind of interface. In able function therefore less “real” than the
the most common occurrences, however, we focusing effect of corrective eyewear?
can find a virtuality not set over and against

Technology enjoins with our percep- lenses, enhancements and elaborations of The reality of the virtual is the exten-
tual field in the gestural articulation of see- our visual field. sion of this “I can,” which for the time being
ing. Whether or not 3D movies or simula- privileges the effects of lighting and sight.
tion technologies such as Oculus Rift—and
whatever subsequent developments may
follow—offer compelling simulacra seems
T he phenomenological and logistical in- But one can imagine other sensorial virtual-
separability of technological virtuality ities that weigh upon our feeling of inhabit-
and everyday experience parallel that of ar- ing a particular place. Not least of these
beside the point. A low-resolution illusion is chitecture and the environment more would be the potential to administer simu-
not necessarily less illusory than a high-res- broadly. Building does not eliminate nature, lated olfactory sensations. A smelt virtually
olution one. Since its inception, video gam- but rather enjoins in conversation with it, might even convey further contortions of
ing has offered an engrossing experience speaking to its sensuous, elemental particu- spatiality—the onset of some mémoire invo-
that only grows in its scale of filmic excita- larity while also fundamentally modifying lontaire of a long forgotten place: digital tea
tion. But, as in most Hollywood produc- it. Similarly, virtuality cannot, on perceptual and biscuits from childhood.
tions, the simulacrum is less than transform- grounds at least, be thought of simply in op-
position to a “real” counterpart. Each re-
ative; it is manipulative. Such feats of illu-
sion do not set out to sway us of their every-
day factual existence. We already know
flects the other in an intricate and ever-shift-W hat I am calling real virtuality is
therefore a Janus-faced description of
ing composite of feeling and sensation that, technology subsuming perceived orient-
there is something uncanny about Google as a totality, no longer obeys the logic of a ations toward place: society becomes not
Glass. Such augmentation and illusion only finite sense of place. only a spectacle but an encompassing
exploit what we are willing to grant them. At the heart of inquiring into a topol- “missed connection.” No sooner is absence
However immersive the means of vir- ogy for which Facebook or satellite imaging made present than the gestural and commu-
tual reality, a horizon of embodied aware- figure prominently, we must turn to the con- nicative elaboration of our bearing on the
ness endures. As with the sleight-of-hand traction of global distances. Merleau-Ponty world is met with new intensities that enter
magician, whose illusions are most effica- offers an instructive observation: “Every- into our subjective field of graspable and
cious when we are complicit in their unveil- thing I see is in principle within my reach, mutable potential. Real virtuality is appre-
ing, reality vanishes only in designated at least within reach of my sight, and is hended only in the void left behind by its
blind spots. Cinematic magic also depends marked on the map of the ‘I can’” [1]. The disappearances, after the sights and sounds
on a suspension of disbelief, a willingness to question then concerns what happens when to which we have grown accustomed are no-
accept the possibilities within frame. We this “I can” is multiplied and mediated by ticeably impoverished. Conversely, the field
can ask what it would mean then to feel at technics, when the map of reality undergoes of perception is interfaced with endless
home in technological virtuality. But such a radical spatial distortion. streams of visual hyper-stimuli, the only
feeling would not correspond to those mo- French urbanist and philosopher Paul remedy being to “space out.” This situation
ments in which we want to be duped into be- Virilio recounts a discussion with his wife corresponds with what Virilio suggests as an
lieving something that we have already dif- in which she remarks that “what she had “overexposure” of spatial perspective [3].
ferentiated from our everyday lives. found most unbearable in the Nazi occupa- Filmic technique becomes the organizing
A more apposite answer to the ques- tion of France was the feeling of being cut architectural principle of this overly illumi-
tion of whether a virtual world could be- off from the United States. At a stroke there nated landscape.
come so “real” as to be lived as though it would be no more American magazines, no The architecture of the world is al-
were a “real” world should perhaps instead more newspapers, and above all, no more ready and increasingly lived as a virtuality.
be sought in the constructed, social domain, movies” [2]. Today, this sentiment is given Architecture has been challenged by cinema
where integrations of new technologies a far more banal expression, as “FOMO,” or over its mastery of lighting, of imposing
brush against custom and habit. To speak of a perpetual “fear of missing out” that binds special effects upon the action that unfolds
a “Twitterverse” that is both ubiquitous and the tangible here and now to an ever-elusive in the street. Each of us, no longer just in-
seemingly nowhere is to describe something elsewhere borne by visual media. habitants of architectural space, is the self-
that has face value to our natural attitude; it Merleau-Ponty’s penumbral “I can” is appointed auteur behind our unique cyclop-
constitutes a “real” connective tissue that is in such cases tempered by an absence made tic perspective and haphazard mise-en-
felt as an immediate feature of the interfaced present, a “that which I cannot” in the face scene. We direct the spectacle of our lives
environment. Our vision plunges into the of infinitely manifestable possibilities. This across various platforms of recording and
depths of a glowing screen as it does the tacit knowledge of negated possibility transmitting.
phantasms of clouds across the sky or sun- aligns with what we might inversely call a Recall that it was within the confound-
beams piercing the forest canopy. It is here real virtuality. The idea of the virtual hangs ing spectacle of cinematic violence that a
that virtualities are rendered in aesthetic decisively on its temporal dimension in this movie theater gunman killed one dozen peo-
transactions of our subjective engagement, regard, its sense of anticipation and reten- ple and injured more than two-dozen others
where they append and fulfill the anticipa- tion (a point elaborated by Bergson and later several years ago. But it is not the case that
tion of experiencing an actual sense of adopted by Deleuze). “When can I see it?” an inability to distinguish between fiction
place. That is, they are not merely tricks, one asks; the where is implied or irrelevant. and reality is symptomatic of this incursion
games, or illusions. They are, like corrective

of virtuality; such a spectacle differs cate- but of a gambler, an individual, suggests treme way the indissolubility of real virtual-
gorically from really believing that the ma- Walter Benjamin, who is motivated by ec- ity. Via an antenna embedded into his skull,
gician’s lovely assistant could vanish inside stasies of time more than space. Whosoever Harbisson can “hear” the sky and “listen” to
of a box. And if there was a confusion of is lost to the rapid ordering of appearances his mother’s eyes, as frequencies of light are
Hollywood action and reality, it certainly and lighting effects can be set suddenly digitally transmitted as sound waves. “I
does not testify to the realism of the film. adrift, inhabiting the perceived role of the don’t perceive my antenna as a device, I per-
Rather, it suggests a more totalizing phe- Joker, now an audience member, now the ceive it as a part of my body, I perceive it as
nomenological symmetry between the ar- Dark Knight himself. an organ,” he says [4]. Much as the cyborg
chitect and the technologist. Reality seems offers Donna Haraway an image to dissolve
more cinematic.
The built environment, furnished in a
manner Heidegger might have described as
W ith the introduction of video moni-
tors, interfaces, and handheld or
wearable devices, the architect and technol-
gender essentialism, it undercuts the as-
sumption of any essential unity of the real.
Modes of perception are diverse, synes-
“present-at-hand,” becomes increasingly ogist creep ever closer together. Everything thetic, constellational, and shifting. To the
“ready-to-hand” in its bearing upon us. We is wallpapered with digital visualization. extent the virtual can “substitute” the real, it
discover a participatory sense of its objec- What does this mean for the designability of is indistinguishable from cyborgism in me-
tivity through which our desires and anxie- an environment? diating somatic movement and perception.
ties are reflected back with disturbing im- Place can now be seen as a moment in The architecture of the world today is
mediacy. To this effect, a restaurant chain a sequence, as something we “check into”— of a similarly hybridized quality. Perhaps
has recently capitalized on touch-screen a time-stamped pin-drop on a virtual map. what is needed, then, is a cyborg phenome-
menus in an attempt to mitigate the embar- The spatial sequencing into temporal nology, capable of investigating rapidly
rassment of customers wanting to order gra- units—i.e., events or posts on a timeline shifting perceptual fields and adapting to the
tuitous amounts of food. feed—may force the architect to become body modifications of the embodied subject.
Through this hybridized, architectonic both set designer and cinematographer. Only by thinking through the perceptual
technics, we can look across a boundless Meanwhile, the city starts to resemble an limits and horizons of the virtual can we
landscape. The world expands through the airport terminal in its infrastructural layout, come to a rigorous understanding of how to
emissions of screens and electronic inter- punctuated by wireless “hot spots” and pub- fabricate better physical and digital archi-
faces, and our embodied relation to them ac- lic device charging docks. These amenities tecture. Simply drawing users away from
quires a luminous quality. We can at any seek to accommodate instantaneous move- the tempest of virtuality does not remedy the
moment “reach” across vast distances, mov- ment across great distances. disappearance of distances any more than an
ing through optical connections, nearing the Here, we might return to the ungainly, occupied France could forget that feeling of
speed of light. unwieldy aspect of technology. It comes as being cut off from America.
How to coordinate a body in an envi- the blinding flash of daylight upon stepping The task for design might instead be-
ronment defined by its perceptual utility out of the theater, the impaired conversabil- come one of fulfilling, within that digital
more than spatiality? The result seems to be ity of the obsessive texter. But we cannot trance of the virtual, the function architec-
division, disunified and strained attention mistake these lapses of habituation for a re- ture has always performed: to create a sense
spans that can no longer tolerate emptiness turn to our everyday senses. What makes of place and restfulness, to offer shelter
or equilibrium. A new campaign for split- virtuality real is that it has fundamentally from the storm.
screen “smart” televisions advertises the changed the architecture of social reality; it
convenience of being able to roam around a does not set upon us as a Matrix-like dissim- Notes
bombed-out warscape in a first-person ulation from the really real. We cannot, fi- 1. M. Merleau-Ponty. The Primacy of Per-
shooter while simultaneously keeping ap- nally, leave the cave of shadows for a Pla- ception J. M. Edie, ed. (Evanston, IL:
prised of the football score. Perception must tonic light. Virtuality, as a basic function of Northwestern Univ. Press, 1964), p. 2.
in this way increasingly answer to demarca- technology that has grown increasingly 2. P. Virilio. War and Cinema (NY: Verso,
tions of time far more than of space. Rapid complex, is part and parcel of the naive eve- 1989), p. 11.
successions of appearances—that is, mon- rydayness of life. In its immediate quality, it 3. P. Virilio. Lost Dimension (Los Angeles:
tage—characterize our trading off of per- enters into relation with all other nodes of Semiotext(e), 2012), p. 30.
spective. We orient ourselves as both spec- our perceptual field, modifying the nature of 4. Niel Harbisson. “TEDWeekends: How a
tator and auteur, mastering the art of se- the whole. Colorblind Cyborg ‘Hears’ Color.” The
quencing and setting our environment into Neil Harbisson, a colorblind artist and Huffington Post. July 26, 2013.
motion. Channel surfing, web browsing, the first person to gain government recogni-
news aggregation, instant messaging, and so tion as a cyborg, perhaps illustrates in an ex-
on—these are not the activities of a flâneur

Navigating by the Light
Paul Krafel
Krafel is a naturalist, educator, and author of Seeing Nature (Chelsea Green, 1998). He is Administrator of the Chrysalis Charter
School in Palo Cedro, California, a teacher-led, science-and-nature program. paul@chrysalischarterschool.com. © 2014 Paul Kra-

into his eyes, sincerely spoke “Trust thy-

I n this EAP commentary, I weave some

strands of my teaching experience with
some design principles advocated by ar-
chitect Christopher Alexander. The fact that
these related strands from different profes-
self.” To the next student I said, “Every
heart vibrates to that iron string. Trust thy-
self. Never imitate.” Around I went, looking
each student in his or her eyes.
number similar to numerical scores on
standardized tests. If “the light” can’t be
specified in this way, then it must be subjec-
tive. At Chrysalis, however, we accept that
this “light” is an objective reality. A teacher
sions fit together will, I hope, contribute to This experience led, in the next few doesn’t need absolute numbers to navigate
a synergy of constructive possibilities. weeks, to my sharing what I called “eye by it. Rather, one focuses on relative
In The Nature of Order and his other shine.” Talking about it as a class, we were changes. What things make the “light”
writings, Alexander champions “incremen- more readily able to look into each other’s brighter? What things tend to make the
tal development” [1]. Rather than imposing eyes and see a spirit shining within. This ef- “light” dim? The aim is always to navigate
a design upon a locale, he prefers to walk the fort nourished a respect and trust that led toward more “light.”
site, develop a plan, and then proceed with over the months to exultant reading of po- Frequently, I’ve had to defend our
construction in a way that allows the site to etry and the emergence of a class shout, mission statement from critics. Here is a
give feedback for identifying and modifying “My beacon fire is lit!” My sharing this de- typical conversation:
subsequent steps in the construction pro- velopment with my fellow teachers led one
cess. to write: “Encouraging the light within each “Yes, encouraging the light sounds
He sees this approach to design and student to shine brighter.” A month later, we nice but what about the real work of teach-
building as nurturing the holistic nature of as a faculty realized that this was our mis- ing the kids?”
life, allowing a creation to emerge through sion statement, which we weren’t even “The real work is encouraging the
progressive differentiation in a way similar thinking about until this sentence emerged, light.”
to babies emerging from within fertilized unasked for and spontaneously. “Yes, but what are you teaching
eggs. The architect does not put together be- them?”
forehand all the parts of a building, which is
then assembled. Instead, he or she helps the
totality of the creation to emerge. Alexander
T his mission statement has made a tre-
mendous difference to our school: it de-
fines and focuses organizational aims in a
“That depends on the teacher and the
“But you need to teach the grade-level
insists there is a power and sanctity in this directed, powerful way. This result sur- standards.”
organic process that increases the wholeness prised me because, at my previous employ- “No, we are a chartered public school
and life of the completed work. ment, I had experienced hours of staff time governed by our charter. We are exploring
I follow a similar kind of “incremental wasted at meetings where disparate “stake- a different way of organizing public educa-
development” in my teaching at Chrysalis holders” gathered to produce a mission tion.”
Charter School, a small, kindergarten- statement. The result was an elegant-sound- “But how can you assure parents that
through-eighth-grade, science-and-nature ing “public-relations” document that had no their child is receiving all the grade-level
school in northern California that my wife real meaning and drew away organizational standards?”
and I co-founded in 1996. In the school’s energy because it referred to nothing real. “Parents don’t ask. They want to see
ninth year, I was teaching literature to the These two contrasting experiences the light shining within their child.”
school’s eighth graders. We were reading with mission statements mirror Alexander’s “Well, how can you assure the State of
excerpts of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self- two dramatically different approaches to de- California that your students are being
Reliance. As students read aloud from the sign and construction. Our mission state- taught the grade-level standards?”
work, I asked them to give voice to the ment of “encouraging the light” emerged “By the state’s standardized tests. Our
words, not just read them. The students did organically over many months from what students on average perform significantly
so, with increasing energy, going round in a we were exploring and in response to the higher than schools of similar de-
group circle, returning to me. I thought that children who are the reason for the school. mographics.”
I, too, should give voice to the words and Some educators are dubious that “But are you teaching to the stand-
thereby model an even more “out-there- Chrysalis can be organized around “the ards?”
ness.” I approached a student and, looking light.” They ask, “How do you measure the “No, we are encouraging the light
‘light’?” These skeptics want an absolute within each student to shine brighter. And

one of the ways you encourage the light is moving in the same intentional direction to- transformation. The student was dutifully
offering each student the experience of un- ward the worthy ends of appropriateness, doing the activity but was frustrated because
derstanding the concepts we are working beauty, and belonging. he knew he somehow wasn’t “getting it.”
with. So it is not enough to cover the mate- I went out to find a specimen that
rial and pass a test. That does not neces- would fit exactly in the middle of the gap.
sarily encourage the light. The key concern
is whether the child experiences under-
T he last question I want to address here
is why moments of intuitive perception,
important for both Alexander and Chrysalis
When the
student added the specimen to his
sequence, a spontaneous
standing. We ‘light up’ when we understand teaching, sustain “lighting up”? What are “WOW!” burst forth, and his face lit up. As
something. That’s what we focus on at we intuitively perceiving in these special Bortoft explains, “In a moment of intuitive
Chrysalis. In addition, a student’s light can moments, and why do they inspire sponta- perception, the particular instance is seen as
shines brighter when he or she knows they neous joy? Helpful here is the work of phi- a living manifestation of the universal” [4].
are safely within a kind, gentle environment, losopher and science educator Henri
So we spend a lot of time working to trans-
form the ‘unkind’ culture that kids bring
from television and other schools into a kind
Bortoft, who explains that this moment of
insight is: S o what is it about phenomenology that I
think I’ve understood, even though I
would never claim to be a phenomenolo-
one. We greet students as they arrive on not to be thought of as a generalization from gist? What I think I understand is that there
campus. Our ‘light shines’ when we are out observations, produced by abstracting from is a way of seeing that can happen through
in nature so we take the students out into na- different instances something that is com- direct experience. These moments of under-
ture every week. Our ‘light shines’ when we mon to them. If this result were the case, one standing are wonderful and they “light us
are known and honored as individuals, so would arrive at an abstracted unity with the up.” They are the core of Alexander’s ap-
we have structured the school to have small dead quality of a lowest common factor… In proach to understanding and making. They
classes that emphasize helpful feedback ra- a moment of intuitive perception, the partic- are the core of our pedagogical efforts at
ther than judgmental grades.” ular instance is seen as a living manifesta- Chrysalis.
tion of the universal [3]. These similarities between Chrysalis
and Alexander’s work help me as a teaching
N avigating by the light brings me to an-
other parallel with Alexander’s work,
which unfolds in a similar “subjective” way.
About the time I read this passage, I professional to feel less alone. These simi-
had witnessed just such a moment for one of larities strengthen my desire to keep navi-
He explains: my students. I had been field-testing a sci- gating “by the light.” I hope the experiences
ence unit that used a local plant to get ele- I have described here with my Chrysalis pu-
…. Let’s say, if I’m trying to make a modest mentary students interested in field biology. pils might, in a parallel way, strengthen the
building, what do I do? I do consciously try Part of the unit was on how flowers develop desire of architects to work in the manner
to make the building move from its not very into seed-containing fruits. One of the activ- explored by Alexander.
good current state toward a state in which ities (called “forms of the process”) asked
you’re more likely to experience “God” in students to collect ten specimens of the Notes
that building. And that tells me very often readily found Erodium botrys (commonly 1. C. Alexander, The Nature of Order, four
what to do. It’s not just some sort of great known as long beaked stork’s bill) at differ- vols. (Berkeley, CA: Center for Environ-
wish, it actually tells me, “Look, make this ent stages of flowering development and mental Structure, 2002–05).
column bigger”…. [2]. then arrange the specimens in temporal se- 2. From an interview available at: www.pat-
quence. ternlanguage.com/archives/wen-
The relative presence of “God” re- One student’s set of specimens was dykohn/wendykohninterviewedited.htm
ferred to here obviously can’t be measured such that there was a gap in the middle, and [last accessed June 24, 2014].
quantitatively. Rather, like us teachers at he could not see any broader pattern. He had 3. H. Bortoft, Counterfeit and Authentic
Chrysalis, Alexander is navigating by rela- some examples of the flower’s dropping its Wholes: Finding a Means for Dwelling in
tive differences. For him, the question of petals and its ovules starting to swell; he Nature, in D. Seamon and R. Mugerauer,
relative life and wholeness in a design keeps also had some examples of the plant style eds., Dwelling, Place and Environment
reappearing throughout the making process growing progressively longer. But in be- (Dordrecht: Martinus-Nijoff, 1985), p.
so that the end product might become a slow tween was a gap preventing him from seeing 296.
accumulation of many smaller decisions all all his specimens as part of one, dramatic 4. Ibid.

Points of View & Objectivity: The Phenomenologist’s Challenge
Yi-Fu Tuan
Tuan is Professor of Geography Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include Romantic Geography (Univ. of
Wisconsin Press, 2014); and Humanist Geography (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2012). yifu@geography.wisc.edu. © 2014 Yi-Fu Tuan.

understand the phenomenologist’s

I challenge as that of embracing both

“point of view” and “objectivity,”
which, as I see it, is also that of intellectual
endeavor at its most ambitious. Let me illus-
his side of the table and vice versa. The task
will be difficult for both, and yet both can
describe with relative ease what they can see
from a point high above, even though nei-
ther has been there!
would have done better, be a great phenom-
enologist and novelist if, in a masterwork
peopled by hundreds of characters, he in-
cluded a poet named Hölderlin! In the
twenty-first century, a phenomenologist-
trate what I mean by these two terms, first, novelist might not feature a poet in his work,
at the microscale; then, at the macroscale. Macroscale but he would surely have to include, besides
The art of the novel peaked in the19th cen- bakers and car dealers, academic types such
Microscale tury. It was also in the 19th century that so- as feminists and Marxists. In other words,
What I see is always a point of view—my cial science and phenomenology were being the issue is not phenomenology being cri-
point of view. What I hear, by contrast, is established. These three endeavors to under- tiqued by feminists and Marxists, but rather
more circumambient and so less subjective. stand human reality had much in common. that they appear as colorful characters in a
What I smell is even less subjective, more The novelist strove to capture the society of masterwork of phenomenology.
“in the round,” and more a quality that em- the time. Madame Bovary had the subtitle What is the use of such a masterwork
anates from something “out there.” “moeurs de province.” Balzac’s La Comédie in phenomenology? The use is twofold: one
Heidegger, I believe, once praised the sense Humaine was a monumental effort to depict that it is a mirror to society but, then, if it is
of smell for that reason. The visual, being a life in all its variety. The great novelists indeed such a mirror, it is also a plan for so-
point of view, is—as I just said—subjective, sought to be objective by drawing attention, ciety’s improvement. The usual plans de-
and yet that subjectivity diminishes as the as would a sociologist, to the social and eco- signed by government and commercial bu-
viewer approaches the object so viewed. nomic forces at work. They also provided reaus are too thin and abstract to serve that
I see the Washington Monument from technical information of the sort one might function adequately. On the other hand, the
afar. It is in my field of vision. I dominate it. find in a manual. Thomas Hardy described poet’s or short-story writer’s work, phenom-
As I approach it, however, this is less and how a tractor worked and wasn’t bothered enological in its psychological acumen but
less true, until under its shadow I feel it to by a departure from plot line. Herman Mel- without the broader frame that is also phe-
be the looming presence (subject) and me a ville famously—or perhaps infamously— nomenology’s calling, is too dense and lim-
mere speck (an object) in its shadow. Phe- made a part of Moby Dick read like a tract ited to be of use other than for a narrow pur-
nomenologists, eschewing objectivity, tend for whaling. pose, such as building a homeless shelter or
to emphasize the “point of view” or the sub- Also on the objective side of the ledger an airport. A masterwork in phenomenology
jective. This is a mistake, for the human ex- in the work of a great novelist is a large, rises above these limitations.
perience includes both. overarching theme such as the nature of war
Point of view is from somewhere. By in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, or the nature of A Theoretical Human Endeavor
contrast, the view from nowhere is from time in Proust’s À la recherche du temps Finally, just as a great realistic novel has
God’s position way up in the sky, hence ob- perdu. This large, overarching theme is the many characters, none of whom actually ex-
jective. (The terminology of “somewhere” novelist’s and is, in that sense, a point of isted, so a great phenomenological treatise
and “nowhere” is Thomas Nagel’s.) We are view and subjective. But my point is that a can be deemed a work of socio-economic
capable of both. What we are not capable of theme so large and inclusive is, humanly and psychological realism even though it
or, rather, what we are not good at is to see speaking, a view from nowhere, a God-like contains individuals none of whom actually
from someone else’s position. Chaos would view, within which is a host of individuals, existed but who are postulated to represent
ensue if this were all there is to perception, each of whom has a past, a socioeconomic a human type or hint at a human condition.
but of course it isn’t. By virtue of our innate position, and a distinctive perspective. In this sense, phenomenology is “theoreti-
ability to see also from “nowhere,” we share Now, to the extent that phenomenolo- cal.” Is this a fault? Not really, for this bent
a common world. gists engage in “psychological description,” toward theory and abstraction is a weakness
A simple experiment will show this to they are poets, short-story writers, or novel- in all mental endeavors. Only God who
be true. Put a three-dimensional model of ists. Heidegger, frustrated by the inade- knows the number of hairs on our head is
hills, valleys, streams, and farms on a table. quacy of prose to capture human reality, re- thoroughly and completely empirical.
Have two persons A and B stand on opposite sorted to the poetry of Hölderlin, but he
sides. Ask A to describe what B sees from

Considering the Relationship between
Phenomenology and Science
Julio Bermudez
Bermudez is an Associate Professor of Architecture and Planning at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He co-
founded the Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality in 2007. His current research includes the empirical investigation of
extraordinary architectural experiences and a neuroscience study of contemplative architecture. http://faculty.cua.edu/bermudez/ ;
bermudez@cua.edu. © 2014 Julio Bermudez.

I n this essay, I discuss what I see as cen-

tral to the advancement of EAP in the
next quarter century: developing a so-
phisticated, robust phenomenological dia-
logue with analytic science. This dialogue is
I s this matter-of-fact recognition indica-
tive of a capitulation to an instrumentalist,
reductionist, and materialistic worldview?
Are we betraying the spirit of phenomenol-
ogy? Here, we must carefully avoid rushing
really present in experience. I don’t neces-
sarily defend or criticize Husserl’s “reduc-
tion.” Rather, I bring it forward to highlight
his affinity with scientific method in the
sense of taking nothing for granted and in-
necessary because it is increasingly diffi- to an answer grounded in the claim that phe- stead seeking to apply objective observation
cult, if not impossible (theoretically and nomenologists profoundly distrust, if not re- to subjective psychological events [2].
practically), to advance insights, observa- ject, the natural sciences as a means for
tions, or allegations without offering empir-
ical evidence.
Quite simply, rhetorical craftsman-
probing phenomenological issues. This per-
spective began with the compelling founda-
tional work of such thinkers as Gaston
I f phenomenology’s beginning is marked
by Husserl’s aim to bring a kind of scien-
tific sensibility into matters of philosophy,
ship, logical argument, poetic writing, and Bachelard and Steen Rasmussen. The per- other phenomenologists following Husserl
impeccable credentials are no longer spective progressively became mainstream used science as a springboard to clarify their
enough to cement the legitimacy of research with architectural theorist Alberto Pérez- understandings of phenomenological princi-
claims. In their place, science, the source of Gómez’s insightful Architecture and the ples and conclusions.
most of our practical knowledge and tech- Crisis of Modern Science [1]. For example, philosopher Maurice
nology, has de facto become today’s only These and other phenomenologically- Merleau-Ponty criticized standard philoso-
widely agreed method to validate arguments inspired thinkers asked how anyone can ac- phy and science by arguing that human cog-
and hypotheses. Science is therefore a fun- cept positivist reductionism to describe, nition is unavoidably embodied and there-
damental power broker in all important de- much less pinpoint or explain, the complex fore neither purely intellectual and detached
cisions affecting us, be they related to envi- thickness of lived experience. These think- nor merely physiological and reactive. He
ronmental, psychological, social, political, ers claimed that, since subjective experience painted a deliciously nuanced account of our
or economic matters. is inaccessible from without, it cannot be lived world replete with sensuality, emo-
Signs of this condition abound. The probed directly by scientific method and tions, contextuality, and concreteness [3].
rapid rise of evidence-based design is but therefore must always remain beyond em- Merleau-Ponty’s critique of science did not,
one example of an accentuating trend. We pirical measurability. however, mean ignoring or eliminating it. In
can be upset and enumerate the many prob- I would argue that this formulaic view fact, some commentators have argued that
lems and biases behind this state of affairs, of phenomenology as anti-scientific has he saw the future of phenomenology as em-
but the fact remains uncontestable. Instead never been true. Phenomenology began with bracing some type of “naturalization”—in
of resisting, a more productive path would founder Edmund Husserl’s famous exhorta- other words, a disciplined, skillful coupling
be to think of science as another perspec- tion of “back to the things themselves” in re- of phenomenology and the natural sciences
tive, language, and method that can be used sponse to obscure philosophical analyses [4].
when considering phenomenological ques- and abstractions lacking little relation to Another productive conversation be-
tions, insights, and recommendations. We lived experience. This “going back to tween science and phenomenology is seen
teachers, professionals, and designers know things” involved a contemplative science of in the work of philosopher Hans-Georg
this very well. If we are to engage students, sorts: the direct, unbiased observation of Gadamer, who worked to demonstrate that
clients, and users productively, we must first-person experience of reality and con- interpretations are the only way to penetrate,
speak to their concerns, in their language, sciousness. Husserl developed a specific however superficially, any claim on reality
using their logic. method, the “phenomenological reduction,” [5]. Turning Husserl’s “reduction” on its
as a way to put aside all content of con- head, Gadamer argued that it is the preju-
sciousness to “objectively” access what is dices we bring to any particular situation
that make interpretation at all possible,

hence the fundamental flaw and naiveté of evidence supporting their claims (e.g., in en- gather data, conduct analyses, and produce
ordinary science when it demands or ex- vironmental psychology, gestalt psychol- findings that convincingly characterize phe-
pects “objectivity.” ogy, anthropology, geography and sociol- nomena. From one point of view, the aim
ogy) [8]. Empirical evidence was also cen- can be phrased as the construction of proba-

O ne can also look to the latest phenome- tral to Christopher Alexander and Thomas
nological criticism of modernity and Thiis-Evesen’s insightful observation and
the scientific project. According to philoso- “cataloguing” of phenomenology-based ty-
bilistic empirical mappings of phenomena.
Though some phenomenologists
might disagree with this aim, I don’t think it
pher Jean-Luc Marion, our encounter with pologies of architectural forms (pattern lan- is farfetched or phenomenologically inap-
reality transcends us at every turn by what guage and archetypes, respectively) [9]. propriate. One can argue that concrete steps
he calls its “saturation” [6]. He argues that This pragmatic attitude continues today. For in this direction began in the early 1980s via
the nature of an event always exceeds our example, architectural theorists Alberto Pé- the insights and leadership of Chilean scien-
capability to make sense of it, much less to rez-Gómez and Juhani Pallasmaa empha- tist Francisco Varela, among others. This ef-
control it. At best, we can deploy a “reduc- size the claims of neuroscience that support fort led to the development of neurophe-
tion” (in Husserl’s sense) so that we can ac- long-held phenomenological positions re- nomenology, an area of scientific investiga-
cess the “given” (the phenomenon) as gift. garding human cognition, perception, em- tion that has steadily grown in significance
In this act, we may realize a transcendence bodiment, and environmental experience in in the last two decades [13]. My call to use
of being and some mode of spiritual pres- general [10]. scientific method to test phenomenological
ence. Philosopher Karsten Harries makes a If there is nothing new in using empir- claims also parallels efforts in “experi-
similar point: that reality is real precisely ical evidence to strengthen phenomenologi- mental philosophy” (“X-Phi”), an innova-
because it does not conform to our desires cal claims, there is some novelty in the in- tive reflective practice working to examine
but rather resists and, sooner or later, wins creasing mention of scientific understand- empirically philosophical topics that have
over our best attempt at subjugating it. The ings in the phenomenological literature. resisted scrutiny via more conventional an-
phenomenological conclusion is that reality This development may be an indication that alytical reasoning [14].
transcends human beings. However power- the natural and social sciences are finally There is no reason why we cannot ju-
ful, instrumentalist science and applied beginning to consider the phenomenologi- diciously bring science into phenomenolog-
technologies cannot ultimately solve the di- cal critique of science that began with Hus- ical inquiry, devise appropriate methodo-
lemmas of human existence [7]. serl’s work in the early twentieth century. logical adaptations and, thereby, lead scien-
Perhaps what is most remarkable tists into new considerations and questions
about these phenomenological insights is
they did not lead phenomenology to radical T o contribute to research and practice in
the twenty-first century, phenomenolo-
subjectivism, relativism, or nihilism—an gists must find ways to better authenticate
that evade them due to their quantitative
training and worldview. In fact, some suc-
cessful examples of this line of inquiry al-
end for some philosophical positions such as their discoveries and claims [11]. How, in ready exist. Running the risk of self-promo-
existentialism and post-structuralism. Nor other words, might phenomenological re- tion, I would like to highlight two research
did these phenomenological insights lead to search expand its typical emphasis on projects I have been successfully conduct-
a rejection of science but only to the refuta- smaller-scale self-observation and herme- ing that manage to investigate highly quali-
tion of scientism, its most simplistic repre- neutics to include empirical measurement tative claims within a scientific, empirical
sentation. providing more objective validation to oth- framework.
Here, we ask the reason for such erwise unreliable or unverifiable first-per- The first of these projects is a large sur-
equanimous response. I suggest that, in their son accounts or relativistic qualitative inter- vey on “Extraordinary Architectural Experi-
heart of hearts, phenomenologists are prag- pretations. ences” that seeks to map the phenomenolog-
matists. They truly want to deal with the ex- Quantifying the qualitative dimen- ical nature of these transformative events. In
perience of the world as lived and to under- sions of any phenomenon may ultimately be this research, I use a very large number of
stand human being-in-the-world. They are impossible, and I am not advocating an ab- self-reported experiential accounts to vali-
not keen on generating far-fetched philo- solute threshold of trustworthiness (which is date (via statistical analysis) otherwise un-
sophical models or adopting radical ideo- never really possible in a positivist mode of reliable first-person accounts [15]. The sec-
logical positions. Given this no-nonsense at- research either). In this regard, the social ond research project uses neuroscience to
titude, phenomenologists are ready to accept sciences have developed a wide range of probe the phenomenology of contemplative
experience-based knowledge and utilize it qualitative methods to identify less tangible spaces. Here, I employ non-invasive brain
for advancing lived reality either actively aspects of cultural, educational, psychologi- imaging (e.g., functional Magnetic Reso-
(e.g., via the design of the built environ- cal, and related phenomena [12]. nance Imaging, or fMRI) to gauge physio-
ment) or receptively (e.g., via human inter- One also notes that recent develop- logically the cerebral activity of individuals
action with that built environment). ments in neuroscience have allowed re- “experiencing” contemplative environ-
This pragmatic attitude has been a sig- searchers to non-invasively observe the neu- ments [16].
nificant part of EAP since its beginning. The ral correlates of mental states. Adopting the
scholarship of Yi-Fu Tuan, Christian Norb- scientific method phenomenologically
erg-Schulz, Edward Relph, and David Sea- means for phenomenologists to develop hy-
mon always included references to scientific potheses, deploy practical procedures,
T he adoption of novel, non-reductionist
methods of scientific observation and

analysis should not unsettle phenomenolo- ogy: Issues in Contemporary Phenome- eds., Theoretical Perspectives in Envi-
gists because I emphasize emphatically that nology and Cognitive Science (Stanford, ronment-Behavior Research (NY: Ple-
my critique does not require that more con- CA: Stanford Univ. Press, 1999). num, 2000), pp. 157–78.
ventional phenomenological modes and 5. H.-G. Gadamer, Truth and Method, 2nd 12. E.g., C. Moustakas, Phenomenological
methods be forsaken. My critique does im- edn. (NY: Crossroad, 2004). Research Methods (Thousand Oaks,
ply, however, that phenomenologists con- 6. J.-L. Marion. Reduction and Givenness CA: Sage, 1994); T. Black, Doing
sider a more encompassing, scientifically- (Evanston, IL.: Northwestern Univ. Quantitative Research in the Social Sci-
engaged mode of phenomenology. Just as Press, 1998). ences (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage,
we cannot speak of one unique paradigm to 7. K. Harries, Transcending Aesthetics, in 1999); D. Amedeo, R. G. Golledge, and
describe all phenomena in physics (e.g., J.Bermudez, ed., Transcending Archi- R. J. Stimson, Person-Environment-Be-
Newtonian, quantum, and relativistic mod- tecture (Washington, DC: CUA Press, havior Research. NY: Guilford Press,
els all have their accuracies but at different forthcoming). 2009); C. Grbich, Qualitative Data
space-time scales), one mode of phenome- 8. E.g., Y.-F. Tuan, Topophilia (NY: Pren- Analysis (London: Sage, 2012).
nology cannot address the inexhaustible tice-Hall, 1974); C. Norberg Schulz, Ex- 13. F. Varela, Neurophenomenology: A
realm of human being and experience. istence, Space and Architecture (NY: Methodological Remedy for the Hard
Forcing a choice between phenome- Praeger, 1971); E. Relph, Place and Problem, Journal of Consciousness
nology and science or the subordination of Placelessness (London: Pion, 1976); D. Studies, 3 (1996): 330-349; also see A.
one to the other are false options. A more Seamon, A Geography of the Lifeworld Damasio, Self Comes to Mind: Con-
comprehensive approach requires a respect- (NY: St. Martin's, 1979). structing the Conscious Brain (NY:
ful, judicious, and mutually beneficial dia- 9. C. Alexander, A Pattern Language (NY: Vintage, 2012).
logue between phenomenology and science. Oxford Univ. Press, 1977); C. Alexan- 14. Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols, eds.,
Let us do it! der, The Timeless Way of Building (NY: Experimental Philosophy (NY: Oxford
Oxford Univ. Press, 1979); T. Thiis- Univ. Press, 2008).
Evensen, Archetypes in Architecture 15. J. Bermudez and B. Ro, Memory, Social
Notes (Oslo: Norwegian Univ. Press, 1987). Interaction and Communicability in
1. S. Rasmussen, Experiencing Architecture 10. E.g., Alberto Pérez-Gómez drew on re- Extraordinary Experiences of Architec-
(Cambridge: MIT Press, 1962); G. cent neuroscience findings in a lecture ture, in C. Jarrett, K.-H. Kim and N.
Bachelard. The Poetics of Space (Bos- he presented at the sixth annual sympo- Senske, eds., Proceedings of the 2013
ton: Beacon Press, 1964); A. Pérez- sium of the Forum for Architecture, Cul- ARCC Conference (Charlotte, NC:
Gómez, Architecture and the Crisis of ture, and Spirituality, held in Toronto in Univ. of North Carolina), pp. 677–684;
Modern Science (Cambridge: MIT June, 2014). In February, 2014, at the J. Bermudez. Empirical Aesthetics: The
Press, 1983). New School of Architecture and Design Body and Emotion in Extraordinary Ar-
2. Here, some readers may object to my in San Diego, Juhani Pallasmaa partici- chitectural Experiences, in P. Plowright
analogy between Husserl’s phenomeno- pated in a dialogue with neuroscientist and B. Gamper, eds., Proceedings of
logical reduction and scientific observa- Michael Arbib. Pallasmaa was also a the 2011 ARCC Conference (Lawrence
tion; see my discussion in J. Bermudez, keynote speaker at the 2014 conference Technology University: Detroit, MI)
Non-Ordinary Architectural Phenome- sponsored by the Academy of Neurosci- pp. 369–380.
nologies: Non-Dualist Experiences and ence for Architecture (ANFA) and held 16. See my lecture, Architecturally Induced
Husserl’s Reduction, Environmental and at the Salk Institute. Contemplative States, delivered at the
Architectural Phenomenology 21, 2 11. On trustworthiness as understood phe- 2012 Academy of Neuroscience for Ar-
(2010): 11–15. nomenologically, see, for example, D. chitecture (ANFA) conference; this lec-
3. M. Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Seamon, A Way of Seeing People and ture is available at:
Perception (NY: Routledge, 1962). Place: Phenomenology in Environment- www.youtube.com/watch?v=PalHtOr
4. J. Petitot, F. Varela, B. Pachoud, and J.- Behavior Research. In S. Wapner, J. Y9E4#t=21_#1 [last accessed June 20,
M. Roy, eds., Naturalizing Phenomenol- Demick, T. Yamamoto, and H Minami, 2014].

Varieties of Phenomenological Description
Edward Relph
Relph is Emeritus Professor of Geography in the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Toronto at Scarborough. Relph
wrote one of the earliest phenomenologies of place—Place and Placelessness (Pion, 1976/2008). His most recent book is Toronto:
Transformations in a City and Its Region (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). ted.relph@gmail.com. © 2014 Edward Relph.

avid Seamon’s invitation to write

D something for this anniversary edi-

tion of EAP led me to reflect on
books that have had a long-term influence
on my thinking about place and landscape.
spent the day just looking and looking. It is
the same in art as in life. The deeper one
penetrates, the broader grows the view.”
This idea of “clear fresh eyes’ has served me
as a sort of touchstone as an unprejudiced
in understanding the characteristics of dif-
ferent types of rocks, plants, colors, clouds,
mountains, buildings, and townscapes. This
understanding then informed the critical
commentaries he wrote and published.
I soon realized there are a handful of way to study places, and the results it has To prepare for The Stones of Venice, a
writings I have often turned to because they given are a basis for trusting my own judg- book that influenced William Morris, Mar-
are inspiring models of phenomenological ments and reducing dependence on the opin- cel Proust, Gandhi, and many others, Ruskin
description. I have referred to these works ions and theories of others [2]. had scaffolding erected in the cathedral of
infrequently in my writing, and some may I regard renowned critic of art and so- San Marco so that he could draw the capital
not be familiar to EAP readers, so this invi- ciety John Ruskin as among the very best of every column as well as other decorations
tation provides me with an opportunity to landscape interpreters. I recently viewed an [sketch below]. This exercise gave him an
share them, if only as brief synopses exhibition of some of his thousands of de- intense, direct knowledge of gothic architec-
scarcely doing them justice. The fact that tailed drawings and paintings, many never ture that enabled him, in effect, to think him-
none of these works are recent probably re- published, all based on careful, precise ob- self into the experiences of the people who
flects my distaste for the current tendency to servation. Apparently, he made them to help had made what he was looking at—experi-
look at the world through theoretical lenses. ences based in deep convictions and beliefs
What I mean by phenomenological de- that Ruskin claimed were instinctively ex-
scription is broader than the philosophical pressed in the carved decorations.
method developed by Husserl and used by By comparison, he regarded the gothic
Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and others. revival architecture and manufactured prod-
While the work of these philosophers has in- ucts surrounding his life in the Victorian age
fluenced my thinking, the approaches I as trivial and thoughtless, no matter how
mention here have different, unrelated prov- precisely made. Insofar as they revealed an-
enances. Most make no reference to phe- ything, it was a division of labor that had
nomenology, but I regard them as implicitly broken human beings into “small crumbs
phenomenological because they all demon- and fragments of life” [3].
strate ways to return to experiences of things I am especially intrigued by Ruskin’s
in themselves. They attempt, as Edward attempt, as an art critic, to identify different
Said claimed of humanism, to dissolve what forms and functions of imagination because
William Blake called “mind forg’d mana- imagination is a phenomenon really acces-
cles” for the purposes of reflective under- sible only to phenomenological approaches.
standing. Several focus on ways of seeing, a Ruskin defined it as “the power of seeing
theme that corresponds with my interests in with a vividness that would not have oc-
landscapes and the visual properties of curred to vague memory.” He used both his
places. I begin with those [1]. own experience as a draftsman and his ex-
tensive knowledge of landscape painting to

I n 1786, as Goethe set out on a journey to

Italy to escape his problems in Weimar,
he wrote in his diary that he was determined
disclose three interconnected aspects of im-
agination, which he described as associa-
tive, contemplative, and penetrative. For
to see “with clear fresh eyes.” He looked Ruskin, seeing, thinking and imagination
carefully at everything he encountered—ar- were faculties to be held in balance as a way
chitecture, trash, trees, clouds, mountains, to get to the heart of the matter [4].
landscapes, people, and the fashions they
wore. At one point, he exclaimed, “I have

of life’s struggle, the manifestation of our dress the question of how this phenome-
W riting a little over a century later,
Gaston Bachelard had the advantage
of being familiar with phenomenological
being and that of others” [7]. non—be it place, landscape, space, build-
ings, silence, imagination, being, religion,
methods when he explored the types of
spaces “seized upon” by the imagination.
“Only phenomenology,” he wrote, “can
P henomenological description can be nature, or the earth—is experienced.
based on a reflective analysis of one’s These thinkers demonstrate that, while
own experiences, but this method can lead there are different ways to answer this ques-
help us to restore the subjectivity of images, to narrow subjectivity and is, frankly, very tion, they all require the hard work of clear
and to measure their fullness, their strength difficult to write about. For me, it makes seeing and careful thinking. Early in his ac-
and their transubjectivity.” His interpretive better sense to hone skills of seeing and ob- count of his life at Walden Pond (which I
source was poetry rather than painting, and servation and then to find ways to access the regard as a phenomenological account of the
the poetic images he considered were spe- intersubjective experiences of others. In ad- practice of dwelling), Thoreau wrote:
cifically those of “felicitous space.” These dition to their own careful observations,
images led him to identify the imaginative Ruskin worked from paintings, Bachelard Let us settle ourselves and work and wedge
functions of houses, attics, drawers, nests, from poetry, Cobb from autobiographies, our feet downward through the mud and
shells, corners, and what he called “the inti- and Dardel from geographical essays. slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradi-
mate immensity” implicit in each. Every In my view, however, the quintessen- tion, and delusions and appearance... till we
place, no matter how small, is simultane- tial example of phenomenological descrip- come to hard bottom and rocks in place,
ously discrete and an imagined microcosm tion based on the experiences of others is which we can call reality and say ‘This is’
of the world [5]. William James’ The Varieties of Religious [9].
For her wonderful book, The Ecology Experience, a book that probably had a sub-
of Imagination in Childhood, Edith Cobb stantial impact on the thinking of both Notes
used autobiographical accounts of child- Heidegger and Wittgenstein. James wrote in 1. E. Said, Orientalism (NY: Vintage Books,
hood to investigate the role of spontaneity the introduction that his book is an elabora- 1979), p. xxii.
and creative imagination in children’s expe- tion of “the feelings, acts and experience of 2. J. W. von Goethe, Italian Journey (Harmonds-
riences of nature. What she found was that individual [human beings] in their solitude, worth: Penguin, 1970), p. 1, p. 109 [origi-
“Experience in childhood is never formal or so far as they stand in relation to whatever nally 1786–88]. “Clear fresh eyes” is an apt
they consider divine” [8]. summary of Goethe’s general approach to
abstract. Nature for the child is sheer sen-
James did not refer to his method as science and nature, discussed in D. Seamon
sory experience.” But children grow up and and A. Zajonc’s Goethe’s Way of Science: A
evolve out of nature into culture. Similarly, phenomenological; instead, he called it ei-
Phenomenology of Nature (Albany, NY:
experience of environment turns into ther empirical or pragmatic, though the es- SUNY Press, 1998).
thought about environment. For adults, en- sence of his approach, like phenomenology, 3. J. Ruskin, “The Nature of Gothic,” in The
vironmental experience tends to be a diffuse is to study direct experiences and to avoid Stones of Venice, Volume II, Chapter VI, sec-
continuum of “nature-body-mind-society” theoretical speculation. His writings incor- tions xv and xvi [1853].
[6]. porate a survey of subjective phenomena 4. J. Ruskin, “On Imagination,” in Modern Paint-
Environmental or, more specifically, recorded in literature by “articulate and self- ers, Volume II, Section 2 [1846]. In a later
conscious” people who had no special eru- edition, Ruskin expressed misgivings about
geographical, experience is the theme of
dition but “lie along the beaten highway.” this particular interpretation but let it stand as
Eric Dardel’s L’Homme et la Terre, pub- an example of his thinking.
lished in 1952. I discovered this short book His descriptions of religious experi-
5. G. Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (Boston:
by chance in a university library some 40 ence follow what he referred to as an exis- Beacon Press, 1969), p. xv, p. xxxiii [origi-
years ago, and, to my knowledge, the work tential point of view that embraces both un- nally 1958].
has rarely been referenced by anyone else. remarkable, everyday experiences of faith in 6. E. Cobb, The Ecology of Imagination in Child-
Dardel explores what he called geographi- different religions, and also mysticism, in- hood (NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 1977), pp.
cality (géographicité)—the relationships tense moments of conversion, and what he 28–29, p. 58, p. 65.
and experiences that bind human beings to referred to as pathologies, exaggerations, 7. E. Dardel, L’Homme et La Terre (Paris:
and perversions. To grasp the variety of re- Presses Universitaires de France, 1954), pp.
the earth, which he considered to be funda-
ligious experiences, he focussed on particu- 1–2, p. 12, p. 41 [my translations].
mental aspects of human existence. To elab- 8. W. James, 1902 The Varieties of Religious Ex-
orate his ideas, he used the expressive writ- lar cases and claimed, in an echo of Goethe
perience (London: Longmans Green and Co.,
ings of early 20th-century regional geogra- and Ruskin, that “One must know concrete 1902). Quotations are from Lecture I and
phers filtered through his own experiences instances first. One can see no farther into a Lecture XX.
of different types of environments, includ- generalization than just so far as one’s pre- 9. H. D. Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedi-
ing the sky, oceans, shorelines, mountains, vious acquaintance with particulars enables ence, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1957), p.
barren plains, cities, and city streets. Dardel one to take it in.” 67 [originally 1854].
suggested that geographicality is manifest in For me, these different approaches to
landscape—an assemblage that “is not, in its phenomenological description share a Image, p. 38: John Ruskin, South Side of St
essence, made to be looked at, but is rather strong family resemblance because they ad- Mark’s, Venice, c.1851, pencil/watercolor.
an insertion of people into the world, a place

Phenomenology, Philosophy, and Praxis
Ingrid Leman Stefanovic
Stefanovic is Dean of the Faculty of Environment, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. She is also a Professor Emeritus at
the Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto. Her most recent book is The Natural City (Univ. of Toronto Press, 2012), co-
edited with Stephen Bede Scharper. ingrid.stefanovic@neimargroup.com. © 2014 Ingrid Leman Stefanovic.

What is Phenomenology? It may seem strange that this question has still to be asked half a century after the first works of Husserl.
The fact remains that it has by no means been answered.
—Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, 1945, p. vii

century has passed since philoso- Other contemporary writers who regu- main in terms of both revealing implicit par-
pher Edmund Husserl published larly come to mind as key contributors to the adigms, values, and experiences of place, as
Ideas. Almost 70 years have passed field of environmental and architectural well as applying that knowledge to our city-
since French philosopher Maurice Merleau- phenomenology include Bob Mugerauer; building practices. There has been much ac-
Ponty wrote the words above, and his ques- Ed Casey; Jeff Malpas; Edward Relph and, complished since Husserl; at the same time,
tion continues to be answered in many dif- my most recent favorite, Henri Bortoft [3]. there is much more to be done. That promise
ferent ways. Some thinkers have interpreted When I think of these researchers, I realize ensures that phenomenological work will
phenomenology in light of new findings in they have all taken the philosophical dimen- continue, particularly in the interdiscipli-
the field of neuroscience and philosophy of sions of phenomenology and enlarged those nary “application” to specific urban-design
mind, building new bridges between disci- concepts through interdisciplinary dialogue. challenges.
plines [1]. Others have taken phenomenol- Such a task is no small achievement. Let me end by extending my congrat-
ogy into the field of nursing and related Classic philosophical texts, not to mention ulations to EAP and to David Seamon for
health-care fields, “helping us to grasp the dense phenomenological works such as keeping the phenomenological project on
ordinary, the unexpected, and the ineffable Heidegger’s Being and Time or Merleau- the right track for decades. May he continue
elements of human experience in health and Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, to do so for many years to come!
illness” [2]. Many researchers work in the open vistas challenging to even the most so-
field of environmental and architectural phisticated student of philosophy. Yet these Notes
phenomenology, reflecting on the meaning thinkers I’ve highlighted manage to take 1. See the work of Evan Thompson, includ-
of place, embodiment, building, dwelling, those key classic texts and build upon them ing Waking, Dreaming, Being (NY: Co-
and home. without compromising the integrity of the lumbia Univ. Press, 2014, forthcoming);
When I think of who has made a sig- original philosophical message. To my and The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Sci-
nificant contribution to this field, David mind, in doing so, they not only validate the ence and Human Experience (Cambridge,
Seamon has a prominent place on the po- mission of philosophy as “applied,” but they MA: MIT Press, 1991).
dium, given his prolific list of publications take phenomenology into the lived world 2. Nursing and the Experience of Illness, I.
and extraordinary contribution to the com- and truly change it for the better. Madyar and J. Walton, eds. (London:
munity, provided via Environmental and I would suggest that phenomenology Routledge, 1999), p. 1; see also P. Mun-
Architectural Phenomenology. He received is applied philosophy, in the true sense of hall, Revisioning Phenomenology: Nurs-
a service award from the Environmental Re- the term. As a method, it serves to remind us ing and Health Science Research (Lon-
search Design Association (EDRA) in 2006, of the significance of the full range of mean- don: Jones and Barlett, 1994).
celebrating his accomplishments in advanc- ing of human experience, including taken- 3. See R. Mugerauer, Interpretations on Be-
ing phenomenological possibilities within for-granted assumptions, values, and per- half of Place (Albany, NY: SUNY Press,
the field of environmental design. ceptions often forgotten in analytic frame- 1994); E. Casey, Getting Back into Place
I am sure I am not the only supporter works. In attending to pre-thematic ways of (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press,
of his work who feels that we could be being-in-the-world, phenomenology helps 2009); J. Malpas, Place and Experience
providing him with a number of additional to comprehend human behavior in its full- (London: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999);
awards as well for his long career in support ness. E. Relph, Place and Placelessness (Lon-
of thoughtful, phenomenological research. The larger task is to find ways in which don: Pion, 1976); Henri Bortoft, The
His determination to provide a forum for phenomenology can take that understanding Wholeness of Nature (Hudson, NY:
phenomenological reflection is not only im- and provide guidance in the actual, deliber- Lindesfarne, 1996); and Taking Appear-
pressive but always inspirational. ate design of better places. Challenges re- ance Seriously (Edinburgh: Floris, 2013).

In Celebration of a Conversation of Pathways
Elizabeth A. Behnke
Betsy Behnke is Coordinator and Senior Research Fellow of the Study Project in Phenomenology of the Body (SPPB), which encour-
ages concrete investigation and fosters networking among phenomenologists working in this area. sppb@openaccess.org. © 2014
Elizabeth A. Behnke.

hould I begin with an example drawn the seminar group as a whole is engaged in nances between certain experiential possi-
from field notes in the life of a prac- a collective experiment in phenomenologi- bilities of paths as elements of lived land-
ticing phenomenologist? The time cal practice at the university, or Rolf and I scapes and similar structures emerging in
and place: June, 2014, in Hildesheim, Ger- are back home discussing phenomenology the lived experience of phenomenology it-
many [1]. Three paths: with the help of good wine and a full moon self—or more specifically, phenomenologi-
or a summer thunderstorm. In other words, cal method (methodos, from hodos, way,
 The path through the countryside from when Rolf and I walk the pathway between journey)—as a path [2].
which one plunges into the trees at a his home and the campus, this makes sense
certain spot, unexpectedly emerging at
a small structure filled, for my German
colleague Rolf, with the memory of the
for us because we are also fellow sojourners
following a pathway of inquiry and explora-
tion we call “phenomenology.”
A s a first example, consider someone
walking along and coming to a fork in
the path. This path branches off in two di-
sounds made by a Japanese musician rections, offering two ways to proceed, and
(sounds that accompanied the silence
 The path that led us around the little
T his lived connectedness stands out even
more clearly for me when I recall the
memorable night that five of us from five
to go on at all, one must make a decision
(Bloomer and Moore 1977, 86). One exam-
ple of this structure in phenomenological
lake, conversing all the while, after our different countries gathered for dinner, an practice involves a fundamental choice of
dinner with Professor Ogawa; occasion not merely for some good German method: Husserl’s path of description, or
 The path we took more than once (and beer but for outstanding camaraderie and Heidegger’s path of interpretation? [3].
at different times of day) between much laughter. On one level, we were at the Here, it is striking that the notion of
Rolf’s home and the campus. restaurant in that particular small hotel be- “pathway” is often used to characterize
cause it was where two of us were staying Heidegger’s life and work (e.g., Pöggeler
Already, several possible experiential as well as being “on the way” home for the 1989). Thus, it is entirely fitting that the
structures emerge: rest of us. motto for his Gesamtausgabe—the project
More profoundly, however, we were to- devoted to publishing all of his writings—
 Experiencing a path as a direction to a gether at that specific place and time be- speaks of “pathways, not works” [4], espe-
goal, even if the goal is not known in cause our life-paths had converged, coming cially since Heidegger himself often refers
advance to someone taking this path for together not only through a shared commit- to paths in a number of connections. Some
the first time; ment to the phenomenological tradition, but examples:
 Experiencing a path that brings us back through our complementary work with the
to where we started, even though we lived body, movement, and dance. With  He uses a particular country path of his
continually moved forward in a single such colleagues, one can embrace at a door- youth as an occasion for interpretation
direction; way—a threshold—to say goodbye at a time (1981);
 Experiencing a path linking two of literal, physical parting, yet remain com-  He sets a conversation in motion along
places—now one is the starting point panions (whether for a while or for a life- a different country path (1966);
and the other is the destination, then time) on the “path with a heart.”  He draws on the word “pathmarks” as
later in the day they exchange roles as Here it is clear that, even though I ini- the title for one collection of essays
we travel the path in the opposite direc- tially set out to describe a path as a feature (1998);
tion. of the natural and built worlds, I find myself  In the original German title of another
describing a multi-dimensional experience collection (2002), he recovers, beneath
In the last case, both Rolf’s home and the conventional use of the word
in which the possibility of following a path
the places where the seminar met (including Holzwege to indicate being led astray
of phenomenological practice plays as great
the grassy, tree-sheltered space behind the (being on the wrong track), its original
a role as the bricks, gravel, and earth of the
building as well as “our” room inside) work meaning—paths leading into a forest or
visible paths beneath our feet. In what fol-
as “destinations,” each at their own time. wood.
lows, I accordingly explore some reso-
But neither destination is arbitrary or indif-
ferent. They reflect our destinies, whether

In the last example, he uses the original the larger horizon (e.g., the concrete features already found (20–1/325). Eventu-
understanding of Holzwege to suggest paths whole we ultimately want to explicate), ally, once the main geographical structures
that simply lead where they lead, even if the since it is what orients our progress of this new land have been revealed, future
region they wander through contains no tra- every step of the way (34/296) [7]. generations are able to walk the paths to-
ditionally canonized “destination.” He even  As a result, the unity of the path con- gether (cf. 1/48) and to carry out a thorough
links the notion of language as a “path” or sists of its being a path toward a goal— cultivation that goes beyond the initial ex-
“way” (Weg) with the Tao (1971a, 92f.) and but as Husserl tells us in the same plorer’s efforts (5/161). In each case, what
contrasts the act of traversing a path already breath, the goal may not lie at the end is required is not merely knowledge “about”
there with the work of clearing a way (as of the path, but in the journey itself the goals and the methods (the pathways to
across a snow-covered field) and keeping it (15/419). reach these goals): “we must walk the paths
open, bringing it forth as a path for the first themselves” (24/445).
time (1971a, 129ff.). Furthermore, Husserl’s turn to the fig- This becomes clear when we consider
When we set forth in the pregiven ure of the explorer makes it clear that once various ways in which a path can fail. For
world, it is the path itself that walks us, so to a path has been made, it becomes intersub- instance, we may find our path blocked by
speak, requiring us to adjust our gait with its jectively accessible. It is true that there are an unsurpassable obstacle. Then there is the
steppingstones and stairs, inviting us to many difficulties to overcome when first case of a path that fails by leading you away
move swiftly ahead or to ramble and linger. penetrating into the “new world” opened up from where you wanted to go, or to alter the
But whether the path was originally shaped by phenomenological practice (3–1/5)— example, one might be well on one’s way,
by the erosion of stones, by animals seeking Husserl refers in this context to “the path of only to find out that the path is leading you
water, or by landscape architects, it has a thorny investigations” (17/251; cf. 8/169) toward somewhere you really do not want to
history, encompassing an inaugural estab- requiring “patient and constant work” go.
lishment or pathmaking; the gradual conse- (HM6/6). Once a way has been made, how- What these three scenarios share, how-
cration of the path through repeated use; and ever, a second explorer can follow in the ever, is that someone was already underway
perhaps a further phase in which a path no footsteps of the first (20–1/325). on some path, and from the standpoint of a
longer taken becomes overgrown, its desti- It is here that Husserl emphatically rigorous descriptive phenomenology, a
nation forgotten or irrelevant, the world it identifies the task shared by both explorers pathway can also fail to be experienced as a
gathers no longer shining forth [5], for in a and phenomenologists: namely, the task of pathway by not being taken. It is true that
Heideggerian interpretation, a path, once description (20–1/326). If one actually trav- we may recognize a formation as a “path”
made, only keeps its world alive if we hear els to the new land, one can remain un- when we see it on a map, but in such a con-
the call of this pathway (1981). moved by criticism from geographers who text all points of the path are given simulta-
never bothered to make the journey neously and no direction of travel is privi-

F or Husserl, however, what first stands

out is the need for the initial pathmaking
wherever there are no pregiven paths to
(5/154f.) because the explorer’s reports (like
those of the phenomenologist who turns to
the phenomena themselves) are based on the
In contrast, for situated experiencers
who are not simultaneously “here” and
guide us. On more than one occasion, he firsthand evidence of actual experience. “there” but continually bear their lived
turns to the image of the explorer of the It is true that the observations made by “here” within themselves, the experience of
“trackless wilderness” of an entirely new both the phenomenologist and the geo- actually taking a path involves being at a
continent (5/154; cf. 3–1/224) [6] to de- graphical explorer can be incomplete so that certain location at each moment (whether at
scribe his discovery of the “immense fields” distinctions are missed, as when the ex- a beginning or already underway) and pro-
of investigation (20–1/303) opened up by plorer interprets what will turn out to be two ceeding in a certain direction (even if there
the new paths and directions of phenomeno- different rivers as parts of one (20–1/322). is no fixed and pregiven goal or no discern-
logical research (20–1/272, 315). But subsequent explorers traveling along ible end as long as one lives). Moreover, it
In the process, he delineates several im- the first explorer’s path may improve the de- is true that the literal pathways we encounter
portant features of phenomenology as a scriptions (20–1/325, 3–1/224). And not in everyday life exist in an already-consti-
pathway of inquiry: only that: What is opened up by the first path tuted space and take measurable time to
is a realm of inquiry where “other paths are traverse.
 When we set forth on the path of phe- possible” (17/11).
nomenological work, we do not know et if we are actually to “walk the paths
in advance what the investigation will
deliver (HM8/347f.): The path proves F or the phenomenologist, then, the
“goal” is the exploration of the entire
Y themselves” (24/445), rather than
merely talking or thinking about doing so,
its practicality and fruitfulness as a way terrain of this new field, with the field of our ongoing experience will necessarily dis-
to proceed only when we actually take phenomenological work conceived as a play the most fundamental structure govern-
it (34/291). place where new explorers taking new path- ing primal temporalization, primal spatiali-
 We necessarily proceed step by step ways will necessarily discover new features zation, and primal motility: “this/more,” as
(24/445; 20–1/273, 286; 8/169), while of the landscape or reveal new aspects of “this” now spills over into the immediately
at the same time remaining cognizant of “next” now, and as each fresh actualization

of my kinaesthetic possibilities, of my capa- his series of seminars on experimentalBehnke, E. A., 2009. “Bodily Protentional-
bility for “more” movement, opens “more” and transformative phenomenology. ity,” Husserl Studies 25: 185–217.
space—the immediately adjacent stretch of 2. Here, it is not possible to provide a com-
Bloomer, K. C., and C. W. Moore, with R.
the path my movement is taking (Behnke plete phenomenology of paths; for some J. Yudell, 1977. Body, Memory, and Ar-
2009, §5.1). In this way, a path is a promise starting places, see Norberg-Schulz 1971,
chitecture. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ.
redeemed step by step, and the only way a ch. 2; Alexander et al. 1977, patterns 30,
path can keep its promise is if we correla- 36, 52, 120, 121; Bloomer and Moore Casey, E. S., 1993. Getting Back into Place.
tively accept its invitation and walk the path 1977, ch. 8; Seamon 1979, 28, themes 4 Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.
itself, following wherever it leads. Delius, H., 1952–53. “Descriptive Interpre-
and 14. It is likewise impossible to present
Along the way, however, we find side tation,” Philosophy and Phenomenologi-
a full account of the extensive use of the
paths, intersections, byways, paths that lead figure of the “path” or “way” in Husserlcal Research 13: 305–23.
to other paths, signposts to distant destina- and Heidegger. Heidegger, M., 1966. “Conversation on a
tions, and so on. There are also places where Country Path about Thinking,” in Dis-
3. See Delius 1952–53. Of course, the situa-
pathways meet—places celebrated as spe- tion can be more complex, e.g., a thinker
course on Thinking. NY: Harper & Row,
cial nodes of activity, interchange, and mu- can use both methods, or other ap- pp. 58–90.
tual enrichment and influence (cf. Alexan- proaches, such as Goethean phenomenol-———, 1971a. On the Way to Language.
der et al. 1977, pattern 30). ogy, may come into play. NY: Harper & Row.
Yet this is also true of phenomenolog- 4. E.g., Seamon 1979, 29: “Phenomenology ———, 1971b. Poetry, Language, Thought.
ical pathways. For me, Environmental & Ar- is as much a process as a product ....” NY: Harper & Row.
chitectural Phenomenology is not only a ———, 1981. “The Pathway,” in
5. See Heidegger 1981 on a path gathering a
nexus where many pathways, coming from world; on the world gathered by a Heidegger: The Man and the Thinker, T.
many different directions, can meet, but an bridge—which for Norberg-Schulz is “a Sheehan, ed. Chicago: Precedent, pp. 69–
inspiration for those exploring the experien- particularly expressive path” (1971, 26;72.
tial dimension to set forth on pathways of cf. 53f.)—see Heidegger 1971b, 152ff. ———, 1998. Pathmarks. W. McNeill, ed.
their own, secure in the knowledge that 6. All references in this form refer to Hus-
Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.
there is more than one way to go about the ———, 2002. Off the Beaten Track. Cam-
serl 1950ff., cited by volume/page num-
task. ber; citations from Husserl 2001ff. follow
bridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.
By providing a forum for all such ex- the same convention using the abbrevia-
Husserl, E., 1950ff. Husserliana. Den Haag/
plorers’ reports of their journey, EAP has tion HM. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff/Kluwer Ac-
become a place that is hospitable to a genu- 7. Cf. Casey 1993, 278ff., on a kind of “dou-
ademic Publishers/Springer.
ine conversation among pathways. For dec- ble-tracking” where at each stage of my
———, 2001ff. Husserliana Materialien.
ades, EAP Editor David Seamon has served journey I experience my current “here” in
Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publish-
as the curator of this place of many meet- relation to the “there” I’m headed for; see
ings, the host of these lively, diverse discus- also Alexander et al. 1977, pattern 120, on
Norberg-Schulz, C., 1971. Existence, Space,
sions. On behalf of the community that this experiencing paths in terms of intermedi-
and Architecture. NY: Praeger.
place has gathered, I therefore offer you, ate goals. Pöggeler, O., 1989. Martin Heidegger’s
David, our most grateful thanks. Path of Thinking. Atlantic Highlands, NJ:
References Humanities Press.
Notes Alexander, C., S. Ishikawa, and M. Silver- Seamon, D., 1979. A Geography of the Life-
1. I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Rolf Elber- stein with M. Jacobson, I. Fiksdahl-King, world. London: Croom Helm.
feld for inviting me to the University of and S. Angel, 1977. A Pattern Language.
Hildesheim to share my work as part of NY: Oxford Univ. Press.

DOI (this issue only): 10.13140/2.1.1134.0161

Sue Michael, Booleroo Backyard—Panel 1, 60 x 267 cm, 2014; see Panel 3, p. 1, and Michael’s essay on her work, p. 11.

Sue Michael, Booleroo Backyard—Panel 2, 60 x 212 cm, 2014. In an email, Michael describes the elderly woman who kept this backyard
garden: “She often worked all morning and afternoon in her garden, all through the seasons. Even on unbearably hot days, she could
be found pulling weeds from beneath the shrubs. She was from Booleroo Centre and was 93 years old.”

Environmental & Architectural

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environmental and architectural experience. Architecture Department, Kansas State University
One key concern of EAP is design, education, and policy sup- 211 Seaton Hall
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